Eric Ennion was an outstanding 20th century bird illustrator who spent the 1950s living and working on the Northumberland coast. He drew native British birds throughout his adult life, capturing not only the structure and markings of the birds but their movement, posture and behaviour. Relatively unknown to today’s public, this is the first exhibition to bring together such a collection of his work.
Eric Ennion 1900-1981
Eric Ennion was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, the son of country doctor. The family moved to Cambridgeshire when he was four. Eric trained as a doctor and joined his father’s medical practice in 1926. From an early age he was fascinated by birds and drawing them.
At the end of the war he sold his medical practice and became the first warden of the Field Study Centre at Flatford Mill in Suffolk. In 1950 he founded Monks House Observatory near Seahouses in Northumberland and for the next ten years ran a vibrant Field Centre. Monks’ House, in Northumberland, attracted a regular band of keen ringers and birdwatchers, as well as providing courses for independent naturalists, artists, and students from colleges and schools.
Inspiring young people was central to his life and work as an artist.The study of migration was very much to the fore in British ornithology at the time and he was at the centre of things – pioneering the trapping of waders and the introduction of mist-nets. He encouraged young artists and naturalists through his extensive knowledge and enthusiasm. “With practice, your pencil can transmit to paper just what you see, with hardly a glance away from the bird you are sketching. Keep your eye on the mark not on the paper. A page full of unfinished sketches is far more useful than anything done in retrospection.”
The exhibition is being curated by Shirley Wheeler, a professional natural history illustrator and there will be opportunities for coastal walks and field trips to sketch birds in their habitat which will be added to the website as they are confirmed so please check the site for updates and events or why not sign up for our mailing list?
For further venue information and opening times please visit the Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens website
Images copyright the Estate of E A R Ennion