Ashley Boon sold his first painting at 14, 47 years ago, and has been working as a wildlife artist ever since graduating from art college. Fascinated by the natural world from a young age, he was, “reading Gerald Durrell when everyone else was reading Biggles”. His passion is birds and as a lifelong bird watcher his knowledge of their anatomy, behaviour and ecology comes through in his art.
Ashley takes inspiration from his home on the fells of north west Cumbria, where he has seen 106 bird species from his home, the most recent visitor being a waxwing. He said, “"I am so lucky to have access to nearby grouse moors where I can find a huge variety of birds such as lapwings and curlews in large numbers, snipe, merlin, wheatears and stonechats, as well as red & black grouse".
In recent years, alongside his painting, he has been putting his knowledge to use as a wildlife guide, leading bespoke safaris to India and Botswana, where on one recent safari he found 242 bird species in 10 days. He said, “I joke that I have finally discovered what I want to do when I grow up. There’s a huge pleasure in being with someone when they see their first elephant or leopard. I get to experience that first thrill all over again through their eyes. It’s the best job in the world.”
A long-time supporter of the GWCT, Ashley has regularly exhibited on the Trust’s stand at the Game Fair and has held several private exhibitions to raise funds with his friend, sculptor Ian Greensitt. The GWCT Gallery was his brainchild, a way of supporting the Trust in these challenging times. He said, “These days there is so much disinformation being spread, so the GWCT’s sound science is more important than ever. When all the normal fundraising events were cancelled this year, I thought the Trust needs a permanent online gallery where people can buy something special from the comfort of their homes.”
His selection of paintings is intended to show the range of his work and to be accessible, “I wanted to include something for everybody, so there is a variety of pieces from a tiny goldcrest pencil sketch to a portrait of a red stag.” As well as the pictures on display, 25% of any new work commissioned via the Gallery will go to the GWCT.