Monday, 25 October 2010
Blackbird in Rowan by Robert Gillmor
A lot can change in fifty years. We take the plethora of wildlife images that adorn magazines, galleries (and websites) for granted now, but in 1960 artworks featuring nature were few and far between. The wildfowl paintings of Peter Scott and book illustrations from Charles Tunnicliffe were popular but far from commonplace.
With this in mind a young bird illustrator from Reading, Robert Gillmor, with the enthusiastic support of Peter Scott, Eric Ennion and Keith Shackleton organized the Exhibition of Contemporary Bird Painters in 1960. After favourable reviews the show was taken on a provincial tour for two years and the success and popularity led directly to the formation in 1964 of the Society of Wildlife Artists.
To commemorate the event today’s wildlife artists have been brought together by Steve and Liz Harris at Birdscapes Gallery at Cley, Norfolk. 50 contemporary bird painters exhibiting 50 works for a 50th anniversary show, and looking at the array of work on display I think we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the forever-young bird illustrator from Reading.
You have to know where you came from if you want to know where you’re going.