In 1959-60 Ladybird books published the classic series “What to look for in… Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter”. Written by EL Grant Watson and illustrated by C F Tunnicliffe, the books highlighted the seasonal changes in the landscape and wildlife, encouraging readers to notice them. Sixty years on, Jonathan Sainsbury has taken the books as the starting point for his current project. Over the past two years, he has sought to respond to the original illustrations, retelling the stories of the seasons: “I wanted to put my own slant on this classic series in tribute to them and to Nature. I am a huge admirer of Tunnicliffe as a field artist and since childhood I have devoted my life to painting the same natural world.”

Jonathan initially worked exclusively in sepia watercolour, responding directly to Tunnicliffe’s illustrations and trying to keep step with the unfolding seasons. Working in monochrome allowed him to work faster, but also seemed appropriate. Like black and white photography, sepia abstracts from reality to create something timeless. Now in the second year of the project, Jonathan has developed some larger responses in colour. He has also added some specifically Scottish scenes, with different landscapes and wildlife to the Tunnicliffe originals which were based largely on Anglesey where the artist lived.

The exhibition, scheduled as our Christmas show, promises to be an enchanting opportunity to look back at the famous illustrations and appreciate Jonathan’s take on them while enjoying an immersive depiction of the passage of time.

Jonathan was born in Warwickshire and spent his formative years in a small village developing a passion for the natural world that remains as strong today as it was then. He studied fine art at the Byam Shaw School of Art and then Leeds Art School, and has worked as an artist since. A prize winner from the Royal Scottish Academy, he has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, including the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, USA, which holds his work in its permanent collection.  He is a Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists, USA. He lives and works in Perthshire.

More work by top wildlife artists can be found in our online art shop