David Shepherd paints every day of his life. Now aged eighty, the famed wildlife, aviation and steam train artist describes his life as 'a series of disasters' - David Shepherd's career has been shaped by serendipity. Rejected by the Slade School of Art, David planned to train as a bus driver. A chance encounter with artist Robin Goodwin resulted in a three-year apprenticeship - a first for Goodwin, who revelled in the challenge, and a life-changing opportunity for Shepherd.

Goodwin taught Shepherd commercially as well as artistically. "Throwing paint at the wall and 'expressing yourself' doesn't pay the bills", taught Robin. "Artists, like everyone else, have to work eight hours and more a day, seven days a week, to meet their responsibilities." These words have informed Shepherd's work, and he is now one of the UK's most financially rewarded artists.

As known for his conservation work as for his painting, David's unrealised childhood dream was to become a game-warden in Africa. When his apprenticeship with Robin was over, he began painting aircraft at Heathrow. His aviation paintings led to commissions from airlines, and the Royal Air Force flew him to Kenya as their guest in 1960. On that visit, he came across a waterhole poisoned by poachers. 255 zebra lay dead around it, convincing David to change the focus of his work. His conservation work led to the birth of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, which now raises awareness of conservation issues and has given away over £5 million in grants to wildlife projects.

David Shepherd: A Crazy Life of Steam & Elephants features over 30 works rarely seen in public before. Selected from the paintings that hang in his own home, the exhibition showcases the breadth of subjects close to David's heart - steam railways, aviation, wildlife and portraits - giving a glimpse into the 'crazy life' of one of the UK's best-known painters.

Join David in conversation at the RWA on Thursday 19 January 2012. Find out more and book now by calling 0117 973 3171.

8 January - 12 February 2012

Admission prices

Adults £5
Concessions £3
Exhibition ticket £8 (unlimited repeat visits to this exhibition)
Friends/Under 16s/UWE & Filton College students FREE

One admission includes entry to all exhibitions on at the same time

Opening times