Featuring Charles Tunnicliffe for Thursday Art-Day…

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Do you remember the stores you read as a child. For me many of these books remain burned into my mind and I can recall childhood stories probably easier than many of the novels I’ve read as an adult. Naturally most are horse books like ‘My Friend Flicka’ by Mary O’Hara

Flicka was first published, according to my copy, in 1943 and amazingly illustrated by C.E. Tunnicliffe. So it’s Charles Tunnicliffe we are featuring for Thursday Art-Day.

My well read copy of My friend Flicka

But, before we focus on C.F. Tunnicliffe I must tell you about the book, “My Friend Flicka” This is a wonderful story for a child who loves horses and appreciates that life is not perfect all the time. I first read it at the age of 10, and have read it many, many more times throughout my life. I loved the story of the sensitive boy, Ken, and his filly Flicka, whose dam Rocket is the fastest horse on the Goose Bar Ranch and the most difficult to handle. Ken’s stern father, Rob McLaughlin calls Rocket ‘loco’ so Ken and Flicka must cope with that initial disapproval and all sorts of other challenges as filly and boy struggle and grow together.
My Friend Flicka is also the story of a strong family held together by an all feeling and loving marriage. Rob McLaughlin, a former captain in the Army, is fighting to make a success of his Goose Bar Ranch. He raises top quality horses in the rugged Wyoming countryside. His wife, Nell, is from the East. There is a gentleness about her but deep down she has an inner strength which is a vital support for her husband. Ken likely gets his sensitivity from his mother. Though she appears a gentle-looking beauty, Nell can turn her hand to most challenges ranching throws at her. Though Rob and Nell’s marriage is passionate they have one young problem and that’s Ken.

He spends most of his time daydreaming when he should be doing his chores. Older brother Howard is the ideal son for Captain McLaughlin athletic, strong, and capable eons away from creative dreamer ken. But when Ken is offered the choice of a colt and chooses Rockets filly his father strongly disapproves. Nell fiercely backs Ken’s choice and Ken begins to learn some of life’s hard lessons as he grows as a person. Rob also learns some strong lessons about being a man, a father, and a husband.

If you have never read this book, you must do so. Plus my copy is full of the most divine cross hatch drawings.

Chapter drawing of Flicka by C.F.Tunnicliffe

Charles Tunnicliffe
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia www.en.wikipedia.org

Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe (1 December 1901 – 7 February 1979) was an internationally renowned naturalistic painter of British birds and other wildlife. He spent most of his working life on the Isle of Anglesey.

Tunnicliffe worked in several media, including watercolor painting, etching and aquatint, wood engraving, woodcut, scraper board (sometimes called scratch board), and oil painting. Much of Tunnicliffe’s work depicted birds in their natural settings and other naturalistic scenes.

He illustrated Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter His work was also used to illustrate Brooke Bond tea cards and as a result was seen by millions of young people in the United Kingdom during the 1950s and 1960s. He also illustrated a number of books, including the Ladybird Books. His work was characterised by its precision and accuracy, but also by the way in which he was able to portray birds as they were seen in nature rather than as stiff scientific studies.

A Snowy Owl – Anglesey by C.F.Tunnicliffe



He painted many of the cover illustrations for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ (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.



Chapter drawing of Banner by C.F.Tunnicliffe

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. His work is still celebrated with the Charles and Winifred Tunnicliffe Memorial Art Competition, which is held annually at Hollinhey Primary School, Sutton, which itself is built on land which was formally part of the farm he lived on as a boy.

1944 – Associate of the Royal Academy
1954 – Fellow of the Royal Academy
1975 – RSPB Gold Medal
1978 – OBE
At least 250 books used Tunnicliffe’s illustrations, including ‘My Friend Flicka” mentioned above.

Tunnicliffe was the subject of a 1981 BBC Wales television documentary, True to Nature, produced by Derek Trimby and narrated by Robert Dougall

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