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Keith Shackleton: a polar retrospective

Keith Shackleton: a polar retrospective

1st May-30th June 2007
See: Opening times for the exhibition and the Museum

The Scott Polar Research Institute is delighted to host this retrospective of the work of one of Britain's most highly regarded wildlife artists.

Keith Shackleton in his studioArtist and naturalist Keith Hope Shackleton was born in England in 1923 and began his travels early when his family moved to Australia. When they returned after five years, he continued his education at Oundle.

He served five years in the RAF in Europe and the Far East, and painted war scenes with the Army and Naval Coastal Forces. After the war he joined the family aviation business as a salesman and pilot, an occupation that lasted fifteen years and provided further travel opportunities. All the while he painted in his spare time. In the early fifties two books of paintings, drawings and essays were published by Lutterworth Press – Tidelines and Wake, which were largely concerned with another great interest – small boat sailing. He represented Great Britain several times in international dinghy and four times crewed the winning boat in the Prince of Wales' Cup for International Fourteens.

As the pressures of his artistic work increased he gave up his aviation commitments to become a full-time painter and joined the Johnny Morris BBC television series Animal Magic. At this time he illustrated Birds of the Atlantic Ocean, A Sailor's Guide to Ocean Birds, Wild Animals In Britain and wrote and illustrated innumerable articles for wildlife and yachting magazines.

Polar bears (© Keith Shackleton)

Since then he has worked extensively as naturalist and boatman in MS Lindblad Explorer, MS Polaris, and other vessels, mainly in the Antarctic but also in the Arctic, Amazon and far-scattered islands of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

His painting has been influenced by a wide variety of subjects and places, but he remains principally a marine painter perhaps best known for his exciting interpretations of sea and sea-birds. He has been President of both the Royal Society of Marine Artists and the Society of Wildlife Artists, of which he was a Founder Member, and Chairman of the Artists' League of Great Britain.

Bibliography: Keith Shackleton: an autobiography in paintings published by Swan Hill Press, 1998.