If it wasn’t for Attenborough, I wouldn’t be an artist…

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If it wasn’t for Attenborough, I wouldn’t be an artist…



David Attenborough, Oils on Board, 2014

If it wasn’t for Attenborough, I wouldn’t be a painter

and I think this same sentiment is true for a lot of wildlife artists, photographers, filmmakers, zoologists, biologists and more.

As David Attenborough turns 90, it seems clear that his time for documentary film-making is far from over; I personally cannot wait to see what comes next. But it is the legacy that will linger; his legacy of inspiring, educating, as well as pressing on some much more sensitive and political issues; but never dictatorial, never inciting blame. Instead, his aim was always to show us the wonders of the natural world, so we can truly understand what we are missing.

Not all of us will get the chance to stand on the South Pole, swim alongside a blue whale, watch the unfurling of the world’s largest flower, have to conduct a serious interview while Konrad Lawrence gets pooped on by a goose, or get sat on by a rambunctious baby gorilla, but thanks to Attenborough, at least part of us thinks that we will.

Thanks to extraordinary insight, captivating filmography and dialogue that hooks you in and makes you want to care, David Attenborough has in no small way helped to raise awareness of the state of our planet for future generations (and there are many other heroes in this arena – just watch The Selfish Green, where some of the finest minds come together to discuss how to save the planet).

Thanks to growing up glued to BBC One, visiting every zoo and bird park and wildlife reserve I could and devouring animal encyclopedias, I have come to understand just how much we are shaping our planet; both negatively and positively. There is a carefully composed mix of dedication, drive and also, hope. And those are the same values that drive me to paint, so that I can maybe touch a little upon that legacy. I hope to recreate just a tiny bit of that magic in my paintings.

Happy Birthday, Sir David.


Here is just a small selection of some of my favourite moments:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auSo1MyWf8g]

David Attenborough – What a Wonderful World

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxGuNJ-nEYg]

The incredible Barnacle Goose – The Hunt

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQHeGEJDeW0]

Penguins and a Life of Crime – Frozen Planet

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_ojUOgqXVw]

Africa – Epilogue

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HEUcCj5cLU]

Unknown Social Behaviour in Rhinos – Africa

2016-05-08T22:16:49+00:00 May 8th, 2016|Animals, Conservation|6 Comments


  1. Gwenn Seemel May 12, 2016 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    Yes! Agreed! His work is so important. For my art but also for my spirit. I love learning about our beautiful and strange world from him.

    • cjwaterfield May 13, 2016 at 6:37 am - Reply

      I second that! 🙂 Will be a very sad day when he’s gone…

  2. Josh Gross | The Jaguar June 13, 2016 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Attenboroughh is a master communicator: he knows exactly how to use the medium of television to get people to care about nature. In an increasingly urban world, this is a valuable skill indeed. The trick now is to utilize still-emerging communication technologies as skillfully as Attenborough uses TV, and to reach a wider range of audiences. We especially need to use these mediums in a way that encourages urban people to get outside and explore the natural world, since that’s the best way to establish an emotional connection to it. And few people will take action to benefit nature unless they feel that emotional connection: despite all of the logical arguments for maintaining healthy and diverse ecosystems.

    • cjwaterfield June 13, 2016 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      Couldn’t agree with you more, but I think we need that emotional connection with everything around us becoming more artificial. Even nature is becoming artificial; fenced off and gun-patrolled parks disguised as wild spaces, breeding endangered species in test tubes, manufactured cinematography for maximum impact.

    • cjwaterfield June 23, 2016 at 11:03 am - Reply

      I wish I could communicate as well as he does to get my message across!

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