Wildlife Artist of theYear2015 Nick Mackman was born in 1972 in Beverley, Yorkshire. After taking a Foundation course in Art and Design at York College of Art and Technology, she took an HND in ceramics at Carmarthenshire College of Technology and Art, for which she was awarded a Distinction and was "Student of the Year 1993". She then went on to take a degree in ceramics at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff. In 1993 she was awarded the Trudy Norman Award for achievement during her HND Course, and in 1997 she received the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Award.
During her formative years she developed a great love for animals, especially dogs. She began by expressing this love on canvas until, on her Foundation course, she discovered the wonders of clay.
In 1992 she began an HND course specialising in animal modelling, during which time she worked as a rhino keeper in Chester Zoo. This inspirational experience allowed her to get involved with a wide variety of animals and to watch, touch and study the nature of animals intimately. She now concentrates on both domestic and wild animals. She details the mannerisms and character of animals through sketches and photography with reference to, and research from, books, magazines and wildlife documentaries. She enjoys exploring the day to day life of an animal, from scratching, sniffing and stretching to subtle courtships and intimate gestures between mother and child.
Nick Mackman says of her work:
When making an animal, I first consider the character of the animal, such as the pride and grace in the giraffe, and try to emulate this through its stance, movement and expression.
Some of my animals are relatively unknown or highly endangered. It is with these animals that I try to bridge the gap in current public perception. I aim to enlighten people to the beauty, humour and tenderness of those animals that are largely seen or represented as purely aggressive, dangerous or ugly. Above all, I hope that humankind will feel the individuality of each animal and appreciate its intrinsic beauty.
The passion which powers my work has evolved from my awareness, awe and wonder of the strangeness of the animal kingdom and its complex survival structures and systems. I hope that my pieces will encourage understanding and compassion from the human individual which in turn will result in a deeper level of enjoyment, respect and admiration for the beauty in the beast.
The material for Nick Mackmans pieces is T-material, the strongest clay type, with paper pulp which gives a strong but lightweight result. Occasionally she uses papier mache on delicate extremities as it lends itself well to clay and has the great advantage of being unbreakable.