Simon Combes Conservation Award

Artists for Conservation
On December 12th, 2004, Simon Combes was tragically killed by a charging Cape Buffalo while hiking near his home in Kenya. He was a prominent member of the AFC (then still known as the Worldwide Nature Artists Group) and Project Director of the Kenya chapter of the Rhino Rescue Trust, an organization founded in 1985 to protect endangered species from being poached and to help the communities surrounding Lake Nakuru National park affected by wildlife conflicts. 

Born in Shaftesbury, England in 1940, Simon Combes moved with his family to Kenya at a very young age.  At the age of 24, while enlisted in the army, he began to draw and was encouraged to exhibit his work.  The public response was extremely encouraging and it was all that Simon needed to leave the army and pursue his passion full-time.  He never looked back.  Numerous awards and honors followed, all in the name of conservation.  His efforts contributed greatly to raising the profile of several conservation organizations and he was appointed Project Director of the Kenya Chapter of the Rhino Rescue Trust, an organization dedicated to anti-poaching activities, and now headed by his widow, Kat Combes. 

Simon was widely respected as a man of superb artistic talent, a brilliant communicator, writer, instructor, world-traveler, painter, and steward of our planet. We were honored to have had him as a member of our Group.

Each month, the AFC recognizes one of its members for artistic excellence and extraordinary contribution to the conservation cause, with its monthly Conservation Artist Award. Simon received this honour in November of 2004, only a month before his passing. The Simon Combes Award represents a selection from within this highly dedicated group of individuals. 

Simon authored several books. One in particular that received wide acclaim–Great Cats–was a dream realized and resulted in a beautiful and informative coffee-table book featuring a spectacular body of artwork. The project lasted nearly 4 years and involved travelling to some of the most remote places on the planet.

The inspiration to honour Simon following his death was instantaneous and the idea for the award was introduced to Simon’s wife Kat during her very difficult time. She embraced it wholeheartedly.

The award’s trophy design, the result of a competition among AFC members, was created by Peter Gray of South Africa. Sculpted in clay and founded bronze with personalized inscription, AFC’s highest award pays a lasting tribute to the man for whom it is named, while honoring, at the same time, an artist member who has demonstrated tremendous commitment in support of conservation, exemplifying the same qualities as the trophy’s namesake. 

Peter’s design involves a bronze column approximately 6 inches wide by 3 inches deep by 10 inches high. Two running Wildebeest are emerging from the mass and fragmenting slightly to indicate the fragility of our efforts to sustain the wilderness areas and the disappearing herds. Wildebeest were chosen by Peter as an apt symbol of the wilderness, and their migratory habits sum up the challenges we face with trying to find new and inspiring ways to conserve the natural world we live in.

David Shepherd from the UK—one of the world’s most recognized wildlife painters and founder of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation—was the first recipient of the Simon Combes Award. The presentation was made in 2006 during a special retrospective exhibition of Simon’s work at the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum. 

Past Recipient's of the Simon Combes Conservation Award:.

2007- David Shepherd (UK) becomes first to receive Simon Combes Conservation Award during ceremony held at Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum

2008 - Robert Bateman (Canada) 

2009- John Banovich (US)  

2010 - Sue Stolberger and Rob Glen (Africa) 

2011 - Dr. Guy Harvey (US)

2012 - Pollyanna Pickering (UK)

2013 - Richard Ellis (US)

2014 - John Seerey-Lester and Suzie Seerey-Lester (US)

2015 - Karen Laurence-Rowe (Kenya)

2016 - Guy Coheleach (US)

2017 - Mark Hobson (Canada)

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