Small, swift and deeply secretive, stoats and weasels are hard to spot in the wild. But a wildlife artist based in Yorkshire has made it his mission to research these little-known mammals for a new exhibition.
Robert E Fuller has devoted the last five years to the intensive study of miniature mustelids living in his garden, getting to know by sight six generations of the same stoat family.
On June 15 he reveals a new collection of paintings inspired by his findings at an exhibition at his gallery in Thixendale, North Yorkshire.
‘Wild About Stoats And Weasels’ will include films made inside the secret nests of these little known mammals and the photographs that informed the new artworks.
The event precedes the release of a new TV documentary filmed in the artist’s garden. The documentary forms part of the next BBC Natural World, a series produced by the esteemed BBC Natural History Unit that is also responsible for programmes like Blue Planet and Planet Earth. It will feature Robert Fuller’s ground-breaking research.
WATCH Robert Fuller paint here
“I paint in a realistic style to capture the individual characters of my wild subjects and for this I need to understand them thoroughly. When I discovered a family of stoats in my garden it was the ideal opportunity to watch and learn about them,” said Robert Fuller.
The artist built bespoke habitats to keep both stoats and weasels in his two-acre plot before deploying more than 60 surveillance cameras to follow them as they moved through his garden shrubbery.
Despite the surveillance, both mammals were extremely difficult to follow and the wildlife artist also had to rely on his extensive field skills to keep pace with their movements. As long and thin as a cucumber, stoats are masters of disguise, even able to turn white in winter snows, whilst weasels are so small they can actually slip through a wedding ring.
“At times they were so elusive,” Mr Fuller explained, “it took all my skill to keep track of them and record their intimate worlds.”
The artist’s unique observations include examples of the brutal mating behaviour of stoats and of the tender, playful way in weasels care for their kits.
His exhibition challenges many of the assumptions made about these little-known but common species; unravelling the mysteries behind behaviours such as the famed stoat ‘war dance’, where stoats are said to mesmerise their prey by turning somersaults before delivering a deadly bite.
The artist’s new collection includes portraits of his favourite stoat and weasel characters, painted in a precise, realistic style that reveals his thorough understanding of each individual animal.
‘Wild About Stoats and Weasels: An Artist’s Perspective’ runs at The Robert Fuller Gallery in Thixendale, North Yorkshire, from June 15 to July 7.
Admission to the exhibition is free and the gallery is open weekdays from 9.30am to 4.30pm and from 10.30am to 4.30pm on weekends.