It is 20 years since I moved to Fotherdale Farm on the Yorkshire Wolds! Celebrate with me at my winter wildlife art exhibition as I look back over two decades of painting the animals and birds that live on my doorstep.
Wildlife art exhibition: ’20 Years at Fotherdale Farm’ at The Robert Fuller Gallery, Thixendale, November 10th – Dec 2nd
Save the date for my winter wildlife art exhibition. I will be showing brand new original paintings of owls and birds spotted in my garden alongside a retrospective of my favourite limited edition prints. Painted in my usual precise and realistic style the collection tells the stories of the kestrels, weasels, stoats and owls that have made Fotherdale Farm their home over the years.
Wildlife art exhibition of original oil and acrylic paintings
I have just a few final brushstrokes to add to the new original painting below, due to be exhibited at my winter wildlife art exhibition. It features 19 tree sparrows huddled together on a hawthorn branch. This composition, above all, tells the story of my success in turning Fotherdale Farm on the Yorkshire Wolds into a wildlife haven. It was painted from a photograph I took from my studio window. When I moved here in 1998 there was just one pair of tree sparrows nesting in the roof space. Now I have 35 breeding pairs of tree sparrows! I noticed they like to perch on the hawthorn hedge outside my studio, so when it was time to trim the hedge I left one branch to grow out for them. It turned out to be a successful tactic for a great composition.
Wildlife art exhibition: Learn how I turned my garden into a wildlife haven to lure in my wild models When I moved to Fotherdale Farm, the garden had been raked bare by a JCB digger and there were only two plants growing here: a red-hot poker and a fushia. I set about creating a garden specifically to attract wildlife. I dug nine ponds and a stream to link them, planted 500 metres of hedgerows, sowed wildflower meadows and planted 1,200 trees. Now my garden hosts more than 60 separate bird species, including nesting birds of prey, as well as families of weasels and stoats. These, and the deer, badgers, foxes and hares that pass through my woodland – I call it the ‘Fotherdale Forest’ – are a constant source of inspiration for my art.
Wildlife art exhibition includes a retrospective of limited edition prints
The birds and animals that live at Fotherdale Farm are like old friends. Many of them have nicknames and over the years I have painted most of their portraits. My winter wildlife art exhibition will include a retrospective of my favourite paintings of Fotherdale wildlife. This display will also tell the story of how I persuaded these creatures to settle here.
Wildlife art exhibition: A selection from the retrospective.
Another important painting in the retrospective features a weasel peeping through a dry stone wall. This painting followed a lengthy project to persuade wild weasels to settle at Fotherdale. I put food out and designed a special habitat to attract them. This young male was one of seven kits born right outside my studio window. I built the dry stone wall featured, as well as a reflection pool just in front of it for these wild weasels to drink from. Then I used surveillance cameras hidden in the garden to make sure I was there to photograph the moment a weasel slunk through a gap in the wall.
My selection of favourite willdife would not be complete without at least one of my paintings of badgers. I have been watching badgers at a sett near my home and gallery in Thixendale since I moved here and I have come to know each member of the clan well. This painting features a mother and her two cubs. They are such playful creatures to watch, it is always a pleasure to sit down and paint them afterwards. Click here to read about how I became accepted by this wild clan of badgers.
Wildlife art exhibition: enjoy complimentary refreshments as you browse
Warm up with a glass of mulled wine as you browse my new art collection. As winter closes in around the Yorkshire Wolds making the surrounding countryside glitter in the cold sunlight, you will be greeted with a warm drink. Hot cups of tea and coffee served in my fine bone China mugs mean you can stay cosy as you look at my paintings, limited edition prints and photographic displays.
Wildlife art exhibition: Find out more about the history of my gallery
My gallery is a beatiful, beamed space where my paintings, limited edition prints, bronze sculpture, greeting cards and gifts are shown off to the very best effect. You will be able to enjoy my latest original paintings and bronze sculptures against a soft, hessian backdrop and can browse my range of limited edition prints, tableware and other gifts from white-painted display stands. Every detail, from the elegant iron work in the stairs to the polished elm counters was designed by myself and handmade by local craftsmen. Click here to read more about my gallery and what to expect when you visit. or click on the link below to watch a short video tour of my gallery.
As I celebrate 20 years at Fotherdale I will be looking back at the history of the space and telling the story of how it was transformed from a derelict farm building into what it is now. There will be information boards telling the story of this development on display during my exhibition. Come and see my gallery and learn about the changes it has undergone since I moved here in 1998. Click here to read more about the history of Fotherdale Farm.
Wildlife art exhibition: See inside my studio and learn how I work
Over the years I have developed a very detailed painting style to portray my wild subjects as accurately as possible. I paint direcly from my photographs. To get the right composition, I cut up my photographs and arrange the cut-outs onto a board until I am happy with a scene.
Wildlife art exhibition: Learn how I also persuade my wild subjects to pose in ‘natural’ backdrops.
Some of my favourite paintings are taken from photographs of wild creatures posing on props in my garden. These can take months to realise. I begin by building habitats for different species and then position my props into these spaces. Frequently used props include owl nest boxes made from attractively-gnarled tree stumps Click here to read about how I make my nest boxes out of old tree stumps for owls to pose on, miniature drystone walls, hollow logs or twisted branches. I have been known to nail autumn leaves to the entrance of a hollow log to ensure that when an animal looks through it the leaves are arranged ‘just so’. Once in situ; I wait for my wild subject – fox, badger, owl, weasel or stoat – to wander onto ‘set’ and pose for me. Live screens next to my easel alert me to the approach of a bird or animal, so that I am there to photograph it when it arrives on set.
I put food out as bait to help this process along. The painting of a stoat above followed months of persauding a family of stoats to settle in the garden. I put food out for them in increasingly difficult places, like on this twisted branch, in order to test their agility. It turned out that these creatures, normally spotted on the ground, are incredibly good at climbing trees.
Once I have the perfect shot, it is time to sit down at my easel and paint. I mainly paint in oils or acrylics, occasionally touching up an acrylic painting with coloured pencils. During my exhibition I will be opening my studio so that you can follow my creative process. There will be information boards displayed on the walls that relay the stories of my wildlife sightings.
Wildife art exhibition includes outstanding wildlife photographs
My photographic studies are worth seeing in their own right. I have won recognition in the British Wildlife Photography of the Year Awards for my studies of weasels throughout the seasons and for the following photograph of two sparrowhawks fighting.
I also travel the world to watch wildlife for my paintings and my photographs of the birds and animals I have studied in remote locations like the Galapagos Islands, Kenya and Namibia are on display in my studio alongside the studies of the wildlife of Fotherdale.
Wildlife art exhibition includes wonderful wildlife footage
I have more than 50 surveillance cameras hidden inside animal nests and in strategic positions around my garden. These record all the secret comings and goings of the wildlife in my garden, so that I don’t miss a thing. I have made a number of videos of the best of my footage of the wildlife of Fotherdale Farm. These will be showing in my gallery during my art exhibition. They include footage of the owls bathing in my ponds to cool off during the summer, a mouse trying to steal food from a sparrowhawk in the woodland behind my house and the barn owl and kestrel chicks inside the nest boxes I built. Click here for a link to my Kestrel Cam and my Barn Owl Cam to read the stories and see the video of these chicks as they grew up this summer.
Wildlife art exhibition: enjoy live nest cams
During my exhibition I will be sharing my live cameras with vistors. These cameras stream live footage from the cameras in my garden so that you can see directly into the secret lives of the owls and kestrels in my garden. One camera is trained onto the branch where I feed the kestrel in my garden each day. If you are lucky you will spot him swoop down to take his meal.
Wildlife art exhibition: Free entry
The good news is that it is free to see my paintings, photographs, video and live cameras. There is disabled access to the gallery and plenty of parking. The gallery is just a 20-minute drive from York. To find it follow a series of brown signs from all roads leading from Thixendale YO17 9LS. Click here for more detailed directions
Wildlife art exhibition: best art gallery in Yorkshire, according to TripAdvisor
My gallery ranks top of TripAdvisor’s 10 best galleries in Yorkshire. Read more about it here. Below are some of the 5* reviews the gallery got this summer:
“Just love visiting Robert Fullers Gallery in Thixendale – situated in a beautiful part of the Yorkshire Wolds the journey getting there is well worth a trip too! The Gallery exhibits the full range of Robert Fullers art work – his talent in capturing detail is exceptional. The exhibition also includes live camera action in tree stumps where you can watch Owls hatch, and young stoats sleep. The garden is great entertainment too with a whole host of hungry birds visiting the bird feeders. Always a coffee on hand too.” Barbara, June 2018.
“My Partner & I visited the gallery on Sunday 24th June to view the ‘Woodland Wildlife’ exhibition. Our welcome was warm and friendly, This exhibition and Robert Fuller’s talent are extraordinary & breathtaking. As well as limited edition prints & original paintings, there is a lovely range of gifts and keepsakes available at very reasonable prices. I am a disabled person who uses a walker or a wheelchair, access to the gallery couldn’t be better, plenty of parking, ramped access & plenty of room to manoeuvre inside the gallery itself. There is one small flight of stairs to Robert’s Studio & live wildlife camera screens, but they are not steep and easy to manage with bannisters either side. Well worth a visit!” Mappleford, June 2018
Wildlife art exhibition in the heart of the stunning Yorkshire Wolds
To get to my gallery you have to follow a single-track road as it drops into a deep fold of the Yorkshire Wolds. As you approach you are immediately aware of where I get my inspiration. It’s not unusual to spot hares bouding across the fields, or to glimpse barn owls gliding over the hedgerows. And the moment you step out of the car, the sound of birdsong fills your ears.
My limited edition prints, art gifts, tableware and greeting cards are all available to buy online or via mail order. If you are not able to make it to my exhibition you can always browse my online catalogue by clicking here, or download your very own copy by clicking this link.