Painting of Charles tunnicliffe painting by philip snow
Photo : Philip Snow

Charles Tunnicliffe - Anglesey bird and wildlife artist

Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe RA, OBE was born in 1901 in Macclesfield, England. Charles was the fourth child of his father William Tunnicliffe, who was a tenant farmer on Lands End Farm in Sutton, Macclesfield.

The young Charles Tunnicliffe spent much of his early years on his fathers farm at Sutton where he saw so much wildlife and nature, as a young boy he attended Sutton St. James’ C.E. Primary School.

In 1916, in his mid teens Charles Tunnicliffe started to study at the Macclesfield School of Art. He went on to win a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London

Tunnicliffes new home on Anglesey

Charles Tunnicliffes home shorelands from the cob

In 1947 Charles Tunnicliffe and his wife Winifred moved from their home in Manchester to a property called Shorelands at Malltraeth on the Isle of Anglesey.

His new home was on the estuary of the Afon Cefni, a perfect habitat for many shore birds. He would reside here untill he passed in 1979.

Tunnicliffe's Work

Most of Charles Tunnicliffe’s work was of birds and wildlife in their natural surroundings. He was chosen to illustrate Henry Williamson’s book Tarka the Otter. His work was also used to illustrate Brook Bond tea cards and as a result was seen by millions of young people in the United Kingdom between the 1950’s and 1960’s, probably inspiring many of them in either art or nature. He went on to illustrate a number of books, including the ladybird books.

From March 1953, he painted many of the cover illustrations for the Royal Society for the Protection of Bird’s (RSPB) magazine Bird Notes, and several for the later Birds magazines. Two of the originals are on long-term loan to the gallery at Oriel Ynys Môn, but in 1995 the RSPB sold 114 at a Sotheby’s auction, raising £210,000; the most expensive being a picture of a partridge, which sold for £6,440.

Books by Charles F Tunnicliffe

He painted many cover illustrations for The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) magazine Bird Notes, also several for the later Birds magazine. If you visit Oriel Ynys Môn on Anglesey you will see two of the originals there, which are on long-term loan to the gallery from the RSPB. In 1995 the RSPB sold 114 of his paintings at a Sotherby’s auction, raising a much needed £210,000; The most expensive painting sold was of a Partridge, which was sold for £6,440.

At his death, much of his personal collection of work was bequeathed to Anglesey council on the condition that it was housed together and made available for public viewing. This body of work can now be seen at Oriel Ynys Môn (The Anglesey Gallery) near Llangefni.