Arctic Wildlife Biro Drawing Workshop
Swarland Primary School, Northumberland
7 June 2019


On a sunny summer's day, Jane delivered two workshops to children of Swarland Primary School, an idyllic village school, set in the lush countryside of rural Northumberland. It was a privilege for Jane to meet and work with the school's inspirational Head Teacher, Mrs Fletcher, and her enthusiastic staff and children. This workshop was kindly donated to the school by Swarland village residents Bryan and Suzanne Stanley.

In her presentation Jane discussed her visit in March 2018, to the Wolf Conservation Center, New York: 

One of the most beautiful and magnificent animals of the Arctic is the Arctic wolf. Last year I visited the Wolf Conservation Center in New York state to meet Atka the famous Arctic Wolf. Atka was one of the center’s Ambassador wolves and loved meeting people. The Ambassador wolves are captive wolves given a home at the center in very large enclosures. The center is part of a conservation programme which protects critically endangered red and Mexican grey wolves. I also was fortunate to catch glimpses of both these species.


Atka; image courtesy of Maggie Howell WCC 

Over hundreds of thousands of years, wolves have been vilified by humans, which has led to their persecution. The last wolf in the UK was killed in Scotland in 1680 although there are some tales wolves existed in Scotland till the 18th century.  

Wolves were almost exterminated from the USA by a government-driven wolf extermination programme from the 18th – mid 19th century that saw nearly 2 million wolves killed. They have slowly started to repopulate America, but they are still hunted. Atka spent many years visiting schools like yours in America, helping to teach children and adults that wolves are not the dangerous animals humans think they are and that people living in wolf inhabited countries are far more likely to be killed by a bee sting than be harmed by wolves.  

Atka was the most gentle, magnificent animal I have met. He was enormous and his eyes were an amazing gold colour. Sadly Atka passed away in his sleep in 2018, aged 16.  I am fortunate to have met and spent time with him. 

Wolves are highly intelligent and social animals and fortunately due to Arctic wolves living in such an isolated part of the world they are the only wolf subspecies that isn’t threatened by hunting and habitat loss. Arctic wolves see so few humans they are relatively fearless and very curious. They are well adapted to living in the Arctic and there are several animals that wolves eat including musk ox, Arctic hare, lemmings and caribou.  

Back in 2012 I was inspired by my dog Lily to raise funds for the Wolf Conservation Center. She is a Northern Inuit just like Dire wolves from the TV series Game of Thrones. Lily’s breed is very complex and she can never be left on her own as she has severe separation anxiety, so my husband and I have adapted our lives in order to look after Lily at home. They are a breed of dog that people should not get unless they can give them 24 hour care. She is the most beautiful dog with so much character and without her wolf ancestors, we wouldn’t have Lily and all the other breeds of domestic dogs so I think it is only right that we conserve Lily’s wild kin. Sweet | Grey Wolves 2012 Biro drawing Jane Lee McCracken

Species studied in this workshop included the following:

Arctic Wolf
Polar Bear
Killer Whale
Arctic Fox
Arctic Hare
Snowy Owl
Harp Seal


Every child attending the workshops worked hard to make their wonderful drawings using colour Biro, resulting in a myriad of exciting drawing styles and exceptional portraits. Here is a collection of images showcasing every child's brilliant drawings which capture the spirit of Arctic Species: