Craig Ivor was born in South Africa in 1977. His artistic ability was recognised at the early age of 12 when his entry into a West Rand School art competition resulted in first prize and his work exhibited at Pretoria’s State Theatre. This experience combined with frequent visits to the Kruger National Park with his family, fueled Craig’s interest in wildlife, bird watching and drawing nature.  After matriculating in 1995 Craig worked for the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa reinforcing his passion for wildlife and birds whilst growing his artistic talents. Craig went on to study and in 1998 received a National Diploma in Art from the Roodepoort College in Johannesburg which after he entered the world of Graphic design.

Artist biography

After a decade of graphic design Craig Ivor decided to change careers and in 2010 moved to Cape Town to follow his life-long dream of becoming an artist, setting his gaze firmly on his pursuit of artistic excellence focused on drawing birds and other wildlife as well as portraits. Determined to make his career change work, Craig decided to market himself by illustrating a 2012 bird calendar which was endorsed by BirdLife South Africa.  

Craig Ivor’s original artworks from the calendar were exhibited at a Bo-Kaap gallery where they caught the eye of the editor of the Private Edition magazine. His work featured in Private Edition shortly thereafter, which turned out to be the beginning of a chain of wonderful events. The magazine’s creative director knew that renowned South African author Marguerite Poland was about to publish her book of memoirs, aptly entitled ‘Taken Captive by Birds’ and introduced the two bird lovers. Before long Marguerite Poland and Craig Ivor’s collaboration was sealed through Penguin Books South Africa and twenty works commissioned for the book. ‘Taken Captive by Birds’ was selected by radio personality Jenny Crwys-Williams as her non-fiction book of the year in 2012 and short-listed for the Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice Award 2013.

In 2013 Craig entered the portrait ‘Marty Whitman’ in the Sanlam National Portrait Competition. This piece was selected in the top 100 of over 1 800 entries. It led to the commission of the portrait ‘Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’. “I was honoured to draw this portrait of Mandela. As I do with every piece, I started by drawing his eyes which reflected honesty, sincerity and pure generosity. Mandela’s legacy will stand for all time. Pencil allows me to depict this realism, giving depth, creating distinction and enabling me to reflect the qualities of this legend.”

In 2017 Craig entered a self-portrait in the Sanlam National Portrait Competition. This piece was selected in the top 40 of over 1400 entries. In 2018 the top 40 portraits were exhibited throughout South Africa and displayed at various venues and galleries such as the Rust-en-Vrede Gallery, University of JHB Art Gallery, Kwazulu Natal Society of Arts Gallery, GFI Gallery Port Elizabeth, Knysna Fine Arts and the George Museum.

Artist Statement

“My love of birds, wildlife and nature began at a very young age. I was about 10 years old when my Father and I built an aviary in our garden, and I remember sitting inside the aviary for hours on a little red chair studying these birds and watching how they interact with each other.

I have always found the most exquisite detail in how perfectly formed all of earths creatures are and felt that I could portray at least some of the fragility of these birds and animals.”

“I draw inspiration from that feeling of peace and stillness that one experiences when observing the wild in all its intricacies – when the widest and quietest vista can calm your soul.

Today’s society is generally far removed from wilderness and all this entails, so my aim is to bring back a connection with nature through my work.”