ROBERT GILLMOR & the beauty of the natural world

Robert Gillmor, one of England’s best-known and loved wildlife artists, died this May at the age of 85.
He lived in our village, Cley next the Sea, which is considered a “birdwatcher’s Mecca“. He was an ornithologist, artist, author and editor, including designing the first logo for the RSPB (Royal Society for Protecting Birds) and being awarded the title of MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his dedication to wildlife (especially birds) and his wildlife art.

Robert Gillmor, einer der bekanntesten und beliebtesten Wildlife-Künstler Englands, starb diesen May im Alter von 85 Jahren. Er lebte in unserem Dorf, Cley next the Sea, das als “Mekka der Vogelbeobachter” gilt. Er war Ornithologe, Künstler, Autor und Herausgeber, u.a. entwarf er das erste Logo der RSPB (Royal Society for Protecting Birds) und wurde mit dem Titel MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) für seinen Einsatz für die Tierwelt (speziell die Vogelwelt) und seine Wildlife-Kunst ausgezeichnet.

Avocets are a symbol of conservation success, which is why they’re on the RSBP logo. (Image courtesy of RSBP)

Spread around our house we have works of Robert – books, sketches, cushions, coasters, cards, bags and a signed poster in our summerhouse in the garden. We got to know him first when he donated books for our book corner in the church and invited us to his studio.
Over the years his work included sketches, paintings, linocuts, book covers, posters, cards and – even soft furnishings – all showing the beauty of the natural world. It was always immaculately executed and much more, usually bold in design, with clear lines and subtle yet vibrant colours. A kind of art we like.

Überall in unserem Haus haben wir Arbeiten von Robert – Bücher, Skizzen, bedruckte Kissen, Untersetzer, Karten und Becher wie auch ein signiertes Poster in unserem Gartenhaus. Wir lernten ihn kennen, als er uns Kunst- und Kinderbücher für unsere Buchecke in der Kirche spendete und uns in sein Studio einlud.
Über die Jahre wuchs sein Werk enorm an. Außer Skizzen und Bilder, produzierte er Linolschnitte, Buchcover, Poster, Karten und vieles mehr. Seine Kunst besticht durch klares Design mit leuchtenden Farben, genauso wie wir es lieben.

Linné named the species of avocet ‘Recurvirostra‘, which is a compound of the Latin word ‘recurvus‘ for bent back and ‘rostrum‘ beak. Because of this beak shape, even moderately experienced birders like us can easily identify it. The avocet lives as a wader here in the wetlands of the marshes. With its characteristic bill, it picks up aquatic insects on which it feeds.

Linné nannte die Spezies der Säbelschnäbler (Avocets) Recurvirostra, was eine Verbindung des lateinischen Wortes ‘recurvus‘ für zurückgebogen und ‘rostrum‘ Schnabel ist. Wegen dieser Schnabelform können selbst mäßig routinierte Vogelbeobachter wie wir ihn leicht bestimmen. Er lebt als Watvogel hier in den Feuchtgebieten der Marschen. Mit seinem charakteristischen Schnabel holt er sich aquatische Insekten, von denen er sich ernährt.

These photos are from the mating dance of the avocet, a bird we strongly connect with Robert Gillmor, on Cley beach, © Hanne Siebers, 2022.

Diese Fotos stammen vom Paarungstanz des Säbelschnäblers, den Dina in Cley diesen Monat aufnahm.

Avocets are elegant birds. Together with the stilts from the same family, they have such long legs that the influential French naturalist Comte de Buffon wondered in the 18th century how nature could grow such long legs that the avocets can just touch the ground. These waders only live with us on the east coast of England in summer, spending the winter on the southwest coast of England.

Die Säbelschnäbler sind äußerst elegante Vögel. Zusammen mit den Stelzen aus der gleichen Familie haben sie derart langen Beinen, dass der einflussreiche französische Naturforscher Comte de Buffon sich im 18. Jh. wunderte, wie die Natur solche lange Beine wachsen ließ, dass die Säbelschnäbler gerade noch den Boden berühren können. Diese Watvögel leben nur im Sommer bei uns an der Ostküste Englands, den Winter verbringen sie an der Südwest-Küste Englands.

With kind regards from the bird paradise that Robert Gillmor loved so much

Mit lieben Grüßen vom Vogelparadies, das Robert Gillmor so liebte

The Fab Four of Cley
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

A Thanksgiving for Robert Gillmor will take place in Cley Church 17.06.2022 at 2.30 pm. Everyone is invited. Birdwatchers and ornithologists from all over the world will be expected.

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© Text and illustrations, Hanne Siebers and Klausbernd Vollmar, Cley next the Sea, 2022

86 thoughts

    • Dear Mike,
      thank you very much.
      We are fans of Robert’s art.
      Dina is a voluntary Little-Tern-Warden. When she went to the Blakeney Point last week to guard their nests she saw this mating ritual of the avocets.
      Wishing you a happy week
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Oh, my dear friends, I didn’t know that Robert Gillmor had passed away. I have very fond memories of our visit to his and his wife Sue Norman’s open studio on Hilltop in Cley when I bought a print and Robert demonstrated his press. An outstanding artist!
    Love your photos of the avocets, Dina-Hanne. Spectacular documentation, well done on you.

    Just a few more days to work and we have midsummer and I’ll be in my stuga again.
    Wishing you a wonderful summer.
    Kram
    Annalena Xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dearest Annalena,
      Robert was quite fragile in the last two years. He died at home working to his last day.
      The avocets were more or less extinct in the area of the Wash but now they are breeding here again. That’s a great success for conservation.
      We wish you a great time at your stuga. You’ll have wonderful weather coming over to you from us. Here it’s warm and sunny – forecasted much too warm for the end of the week, up to 30 degrees C.
      KRAM
      🤗 🤗
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
      XXXX

      Liked by 1 person

    • Good afternoon, dear GP,
      we live in a village where a lot of our neighbours moved here because they love nature. A lot of them made their love for nature their profession, they are authors, photographers, painters and expedition leaders.
      We wish you and your family a wonderful summer, keep well and take care
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for the link, GP. I have added it to the post now. So silly of us to forget!
      Sunny greetings from Cley to Florida – we’re in for a small heatwave when the Thanksgiving for Gillmor will be celebrated with temperatures climbing towards 30°C. Probably no way near south of FL!
      Dina-Hanne

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much for your kind words.
      As the beach and the bird sanctuary are not far from our doorstep, Dina has the chance to take such pictures.
      Wishing you a wonderful week
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Habt vielen Dank, Klausbernd und Dina, für die Vorstellung des Künstlers Robert Gillmor, sowie für die wunderschönen Bilder der Avocets. Ich habe inzwischen ein bisschen über seine Jugend und den künstlerischen Einfluss, der sein Grossvaters gehabt hat, gelesen und fand das ganz berührend!
    Cari saluti Martina

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much, dear Mermaid – we suppose you are a Selkie.
      His art is perfect – just the middle between realism and abstract.
      Wishing you a wonderful week
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It sounds like he had a fulfilled and happy life, doing something he loved. That is a treasure in itself. I love the avocets, which we are blessed with here, too. R. I. P to your friend. 🤗❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for commenting.
      Robert wasn’t doing photography but graphics, linocuts and paintings.
      A lot of quite successful artists living in our village, most of them are authors. It’s inspiring to live at the sea in a chocolate box village of intellectuals and artists.
      Wishing you all the best
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very, dear Hedy.
      Nature is amazing, isn’t it? Yesterday we saw Bee-Eaters, they were seen for the first time on our coast.
      Wishing you a wonderful weekend
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

    • Thank you very much.
      Everything we know about birds we learned from the ‘old school’ bird watchers like Brian Bland f.e. These bird watchers like to share their knowledge – especially in the hides.
      Wishing you a happy weekend. We are off to the memorial service for Robert this afternoon.
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Guten Abend, liebe Karin,
      habe herzlichen Dank 🙏 🙏
      Keep COOL
      Hier war heute der heißeste Tag seit langem mit 27 Grad C. Das ist für uns sehr ungewöhnlich. Da geht keiner mehr vor die Türe.
      Mit lieben Grüßen ins Elsass
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Liebe Karin,
      hier ist heute die Temperatur um über 15 Grad C gegenüber gestern gesunken. In einigen Gebieten Englands ist das der größte Temperaturunterschied von einem auf den anderen Tag seit Jahren. Und nun sind wir auch nicht zufrieden, da wir heute mit unseren Kanus hinausfahren wollten. So machen wir es uns drinnen gemütlich.
      Wir wünschen dir ein rundum feines Wochenende
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I so enjoyed learning about Robert Gillmore and enjoying some of his gifted artwork here, Fab Four. It was also wonderful to see Dina’s fantastic avocet photos, capturing the upturned bill and the mating dance so well. These are unique photos with the beach for background, as we so often see them in water and don’t usually get a look at the entire leg and feet. Wonderful post and tribute.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much, dear Jet.
      None of the other wardens at Blakeney Point had seen this mating dance before. Dina was lucky.
      We wish you and Athena a wonderful week to come
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’d not heard of Mr. Gilmore but clearly he wa a wonderful inspiration and so influential in the world where birds are so beloved. We do have avocets here on Kiawah and even had a street named Avocet, but ours do not have the curved beak – which is wonderful! Fantastic images of the mating dance Hanne!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good morning, dear Tina,
      we didn’t know that there are avocets without this curved beak. It’s so typical for our avocets here that for us birds without that curved beak can’t be avocets.
      Avocets live in wetlands on all continents except Antarctica.
      Thanks for commenting
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

  6. You do Robert Gillmor justice with this wonderful post, showing not only his brilliant artistic work ~ but something just as inspiring with his work as a conservationist. I’ve not heard of him, but viewing his work I have to agree thaat what he did was immaculately executed and the subjects telling much more of a story which is the beauty of good art. The photos you share of the avocet are amazing, and like Tina, I have never seen them with a curved beak 🙂 which made these shots even more mesmerizing ~ especially the ones Dina took of the mating dance of the avocet. Wonderful tribute, wonderful post. Wishing you all a great weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Randall,
      thank you very much for your kind words.
      Robert was amazingly active as an artist and as a conservationist but a quiet person at the same time.
      As Dina is a voluntary tern-warden in summer and the photographer of the National Trust she is often at the Blakeney Point where she took those pictures of the mating dance. There the avocets are breeding right now.
      Wishing you a wonderful weekend
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

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