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Robert Gillmor

Robert Gillmor

Gillmor in March 2010, at Nature in Art, in front of a linocut of his cover art for Birds New to Norfolk, depicting a red-breasted nuthatch
Born(1936-07-06)6 July 1936
Reading, Berkshire, England
Died8 May 2022(2022-05-08) (aged 85)
Occupation(s)Artist and illustrator
Notable workNew Naturalist book jackets since 1985.
AwardsRSPB Medal

Robert Allen Fitzwilliam Gillmor MBE (6 July 1936 – 8 May 2022) was a British ornithologist, artist, illustrator, author, and editor. He was a co-founder of the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) and was its secretary, chairman and president. He contributed to over 100 books, and received numerous awards.[1][2][3][4]

Early life

Gillmor was born on 6 July 1936[5] and educated at Leighton Park School, Reading and the School of Fine Art at Reading University. He was just 16 when his illustrations were first published, in the monthly magazine British Birds. When he was a student in the art department of Reading University, he illustrated his first book, A Study of Blackbirds. Gillmor taught art and craft at his old school, Leighton Park in Reading, for six years before commencing a freelance career as a wildlife artist in 1965.[4]

Aged 13, he was the first ever junior member elected by the Reading Ornithological Club (later Berkshire Ornithological Club) and went on to illustrate the covers of its annual reports from 1950. He was eventually made the club's life president.[1][4]


Gillmor's output was enormous and in a variety of forms, line drawing watercolour, lino-cuts and silk screen. After his first book in 1958, his work appeared in over 100 others.[1]

Moving from Reading to Cley next the Sea in Norfolk in 1998[1] proved an inspiring influence on his work. He resumed making lino-cuts. He was also a keen ornithologist, and served on council for all three of the national organisations, RSPB, British Ornithologists' Union and the British Trust for Ornithology. He designed the first version of the RSPB's Avocet logo.[6] He was a long-standing member (and former president) of the Reading Guild of Artists.[1]


After founding the Society of Wildlife Artists with Eric Ennion in the early 1960s,[4] Robert served as its secretary and chairman for many years.[5] He was also elected president in 1984 and served for two five-year periods,[5] he also served as a vice-president of the society. As well as working to promote current work, he did much to promote work of past artists, including Charles Tunnicliffe, (editing three books) and his grandfather, Professor Allen W. Seaby (1867–1953), who instilled in him a love of printmaking.[citation needed]

Later life

In 2011, Gillmor completed lino-cuts for four sets of postage stamps for Royal Mail, with a further three sets (of six stamps each) in 2012.[1] He designed the British Trust for Ornithology's Dilys Breese Medal, first awarded in 2009.[7]

A retrospective of Gillmor's work was exhibited at Reading Museum from 23 October 2011 to 29 April 2012.[8][9]

In the 2015 Birthday Honours he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), "for services to Wildlife Art".[4][10] His other awards included the RSPB Medal (2001), and the Union Medal of the British Ornithological Union (1997).[11]

He died on 8 May 2022, aged 85, following a lengthy period of ill-health.[5][4][12][13] He is survived by his wife and fellow artist, Susan (née Norman; they married in 1974[14]), and children Emily (also a wildlife artist[15]) and Thomas.[4]


This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (August 2008)
  • — (2006). Cutting Away: the linocuts of Robert Gillmor. Peterborough. ISBN 978-1-904078-14-2. Archived from the original on 1 November 2011.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  • — (2011). Birds, Blocks and Stamps: Post & Go Birds of Britain. Reading: Two Rivers Press. ISBN 978-1-901677-79-9.
  • — (2013). Cover Birds. Two Rivers Press. ISBN 978-1901677966.
  • — (2014). Robert Gillmor's Norfolk Bird Sketches.[16]
  • — (2018). Pressing On: A Decade of New Linocuts. Mascot Media Ltd. ISBN 9781999845711.

As editor

As art editor

  • The Birds of the Western Palaearctic, nine volumes, 1977–1994[1]
  • Birds of Berkshire, 1996[1]

As illustrator


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Robert returns to his roots". Henley Standard. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  2. ^ Avery, Mark (10 October 2011). "Top scientist slams government". Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  3. ^ "Independent journalist wins RSPB medal". Birdwatch. Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Moss, Stephen (12 May 2022). "Robert Gillmor obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d Avery, Mark. "Robert Gillmor – 1936 – 2022". Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  6. ^ " ". Springwatch. Season 2018. Episode 5. 4 June 2018. BBC Television. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  7. ^ Whitby, Max. "A Gong For Barclay". BirdGuides. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  8. ^ "Robert Gillmor: Retrospective". Reading Museum. 10 October 2011. Archived from the original on 22 October 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  9. ^ "Robert returns to his roots". Henley Standard. 5 April 2012. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012.
  10. ^ "No. 61256". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2015. p. B19.
  11. ^ "About the BOU". British Ornithologists' Union. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017.
  12. ^ "Robert Gillmor MBE 1936-2022". The Society of Wildlife Artists. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  13. ^ Bayley, Sian. "Gillmor retires as cover artist for New Naturalist series". The Bookseller. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  14. ^ "Robert Gillmor, ornithologist and wildlife illustrator who drew the original RSPB avocet logo – obituary". The Telegraph. 13 May 2022. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  15. ^ "Emily Gillmor". Pinkfoot Gallery. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  16. ^ Toms, Mike. "Review of Robert Gillmor's Norfolk Bird Sketches". British Trust for Ornithology (
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Robert Gillmor
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