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The man behind the famous RSPB logo is Cley-based wildlife artist

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

The RSPB logo of an avocet was created by North Norfolk wildlife artist Robert Gillmor (image courtesy the RSPB)
North Norfolk wildlife artist Robert Gillmor created the famous RSPB logo (Image courtesy the RSPB)

As the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) marks its 130th anniversary this year, few know that Cley-based wildlife artist Robert Gillmor is the man who designed the charity's iconic avocet logo.

The 83-year-old, who is one of the UK's most highly regarded wildlife artists, has been passionate about birds and drawing since childhood. He lives and works in Cley, Blakeney’s neighbouring village.

Cley is also home to Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Cley Marshes nature reserve which has been named by broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough among his top ten wildlife places in the world.

This reserve has been a favourite haunt of Robert Gillmor who, with sketchbook in hand observing and drawing wildlife, has been a familiar figure on the coastal marshes for more than 40 years.

Gillmor is an ornithologist, artist, illustrator, printmaker, and author. In 2001 he received the RSPB medal.

He was born in Reading in 1936 but has had a lifelong love affair with the Norfolk marshes. He and his wife Sue moved permanently to Cley in 1998 to a home overlooking the reserve and the sea.

Over the past 12 years he has produced 33 Collins New Naturalist covers, 30 gallery-edition linocuts, 23 other book jackets, and 46 designs for Royal Mail postage stamps.

Gillmor draws his inspiration from the wildlife and countryside of his North Norfolk home. His distinctive prints capture the particular behaviours of birds and wildlife in this landscape with its vast skies.

He is one of the founders of the Society of Wildlife Artists and has been its secretary, chairman, and its president. He has contributed to more than 500 books and magazines.

His first illustration – the cover of the 1949 Reading Ornithological Club report – was published when he was just 13 years old. It featured a goose.

Three years later, when Robert Gillmor was 16, his illustrations were published in the prestigious British Birds magazine. While still at university he illustrated the first of more than 150 books.

He became a full-time freelance wildlife artist in 1965 and has been in constant demand ever since.

Now he is one of the best-known wildlife artists and printmakers in the UK and has created the wonderful image marking the 50th anniversary of North Norfolk being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This print has already become a symbolic image celebrating Norfolk’s skeins of geese, gulls, sailing boats, and its creeks at low tide.

A framed copy of the print is hanging in Kiln Cottage .

Gillmor works in many forms including line drawing, watercolour, linocut and silk screen. He was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2015 recognising his contribution to wildlife art.

Prints of Robert Gillmor’s work are available from the pinkfootGallery in the centre of Cley. The gallery has paintings, sculptures, cushions, tablemats, cards, and bags carrying Robert Gillmor prints.

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