It was undoubtedly a failing on my part that until a couple of weeks ago the name Robert Gillmor did not connect with me. In my defence I was however familiar with his work examples of which have formed covers of the New Naturalists Book Series. Not that I have any of that range, much as I would like them, but I know myslef too well and if I had a single one of these beautiful and interesting volumes, I would want the lot, and that is a collection that I cannot afford at present. One day. Maybe. However amongst the books on my shelves is one that bears the artist’s work – Victor Osborne’s Digger’s Diary.

So, when I saw a Robert Gillmor retrospective was on not too far away I marked it down as something to do during the oimpending half-term. Going to a gallery with a seven-year old is not ideal, but Little Boots is pretty god. With an enquiring mind and the ability to quietly observe and absorb he probably sees more than I do if I’m honest. Plus the gallery is attached to a museum which the youngster enjoys visiting.     

On the day we actually had the best mate tagging along too, which did worry me a little, but they were impeccably behaved and did look at the pictures (albeit quickly) to decide which was their favourite.

They did then settle down to watch the video where the artist demonstrated how he built up his lino cut prints. I was told afterwards that the method was like an animation, (something both kids are interested in). This did then morph into a game where they pretended that Mr Gillmor was a man who lived in the telly.

They sat quietly giggling whilst waving and pulling faces at him.

Though dominated by his more recent linocut work, it does cover all of the artist’s work from his childhood onwards and in a variety of mediums. Examples include a pair of rather camp watercolour dragons used on a 1970 BBC wildlife programme, a Radio Times cover, in addition to those for a number of books including the aforementioned Digger’s Diary, New Naturalists, plus a ghostly fish for Fred Buller’s “Pike and Pike Angler”.

His work for the Royal Mail on Post and Go stamps is well represented, but for me these are not so fine as slightly earlier pieces such as Full Moon (2000) showing a hunting barn owl set against the silhouette of a large bull and March Moonlight (2004) where the moon reflects on distant water behind a pair of bounding hares.

I would have liked time to have enjoy further, but realised the dynamic duo were hatching a plan to rescue the man in the telly, which signalled time to make tracks. Ushering the kids from the room with promises of chips, I looked over my shoulder and promised myself I’d be back one day very soon.