Ripples from the House on the Shore: Eric Ennion Art and Illustration has been a project managed by WALK Research Group and Glead Ecological Environmental Services with financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and very valuable support also from the Natural History Society of Northumbria. It took place July 2015 – July 2016 and was part of Drawing?, a festival of drawing held throughout the North East. The aim of the project was to engage people with the legacy of Eric Ennion’s art.
Eric Ennion was a 20th Century bird illustrator who lived in the 1950s at Monk’s House on the Northumberland coast running a bird observatory. Alongside other post-Ward bird artists such as Peter M Scott and Charles F Tunnicliffe, Ennion played a major part in a revival of interest in ornithology and natural history. Ennion published many books and held exhibitions from 1930s onwards. He was involved in a number of of organisations promoting natural history and supporting British wildlife and birds in particular. He was also one of the founders of the Society of Wildlife Artists.
Ruddy Shelducks by Eric Ennion
Monk’s House on the Northumberland coast
Through his work at Monk’s House, Ennion made considerable contributions to the knowledge of bird migration on the Northumberland coast.
A main element of the project ‘Ripples from the House on the Shore’ has been an exhibition of his work which was held at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens (26 September – 13 December 2015) and at The Granary Gallery Berwick upon Tweed (6 February – 17 April 2016). Around the exhibition there took place a number of activities that engaged and involved a wide range of people of all ages. These included: research which uncovered and documented materials and details about Ennion and his work, cataloguing of Ennion’s drawings, a public appeal for information and memories about Ennion and his time in Northumberland and recording and documenting these, public walks in the footsteps of Ennion, public presentations about Ennion, his life and work and ‘drawing from nature’ sessions using Ennion’s work as inspiration.
The exhibition at The Granary Gallery, Berwick upon Tweed, spring 2016
Students’ Drawing session at the exhibition in Sunderland, October 2015
‘Excellent exhibition … it has encouraged us to do more bird watching!’ Exhibition visitor comment, Steve Fish and Barbara Joyce, Sheffield
‘Genius! A great artist and some wonderful images. Thanks to all concerned.’ Tony Hopkins, Suffolk
‘Delightful and inspirational, something to aspire to..!’, Joan Harbottle
Drawing session, May 2016
All the activities encouraged participation – by interested people researching Ennion and contributing to the exhibition and knowledge, by attending the exhibitions, participating in the art and drawing sessions, walking on the Northumberland coast and attending events. Figures and feedback show that the project has engendered a better and greater appreciation of Ennion’s work and his role in supporting and developing the study of natural history during the 20th Century.
Another result of the project has been the writing of a very valuable essay on Eric Ennion by Keith Bowey for WALK Research Group. Please find this below.