From Cambridge University veterinary student, to bronze sculptor, to British Army helicopter pilot, to one of the most successful self-representing artists in the UK – Cheltenham artist Hannah Shergold has a fascinating, albeit peculiar back story. She has a proven capacity for the sciences both in her veterinary studies and the physical and mechanical aspects of aviation, but she has consistently returned to her passion for art.
"Art is home for me. It is my comfort, my safe space... but I am, by trade, a scientist."
After graduating with a Masters in Zoology from Cambridge University in 2006, Hannah established herself as a bronze sculptor, using her anatomical knowledge to create highly representational studies of wild and domestic animals. After exhibiting internationally with the Department of Trade and Investment she undertook multiple private commissions. She was later selected to create two substantial works of art for the British Army - the Leaping Lynx for the Army Air Corps and the Charging Rhino for the First UK Armoured Division.
"Learning is what drives me. There is so much to learn, and the knowledge is so accessible."
In 2009, still eager for adventure and challenge, Hannah joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and commissioned into the Army Air Corps. After completing a tour of Afghanistan with the infantry she began flying training, and qualified as a Lynx pilot in 2013.
Hannah has served all over the world including in Germany, Canada and Kenya. In 2015 Hannah deployed to Kenya for the second time to conduct medical evacuation duties. Often based in austere locations in the remote northern deserts, she flew multiple casualties with life-threatening conditions to medical facilities in Nairobi.
Over £200,000 raised for charity since 2018
"It's just not enough to make a living through painting. For me, the art must give something back."
Since leaving the Regular Forces in 2018, Hannah Shergold has raised over £200,000 for charities including the UK Invictus Games Team, Born Free, the World Wildlife Fund and her current partnered charity, Tusk.
She has featured on Sky arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019, in the Financial Times "How To Spend It" and was listed as one of the top ten women to watch in the arts by About Time Magazine. Hannah's work is in demand across the globe and now features in some of the most influential collections in France, Switzerland, Australia and Singapore.