Charles Tunnicliffe: a Cheshire Countryman

Between Floors Gallery to open at The Silk Museum with a new exhibition dedicated to acclaimed local artist Charles Tunnicliffe.

From 11 December 2017 onwards

Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe (1901-1979) was Britain’s foremost 20th century wildlife artist, renowned for his decorative watercolours of birds. He is less well-known as a printmaker, but it is often in these pictures that we discover his early life in Cheshire.

Born in Langley, Macclesfield, he lived and worked on the family farm at Sutton Lane Ends until he was 19 years old. He studied at the Macclesfield School of Art before receiving a scholarship for the Royal College of Art in London.

Charles Tunnicliffe self portrait. Click on image to enlarge

The Macclesfield School of Art building later became The Silk Museum, so it is a fitting tribute that this exhibition will be on show in Tunnicliffe’s place of study. Between Floors Gallery, the newly-developed display space, will provide a dedicated area to celebrate his work.

Tunnicliffe’s early years on the farm shaped his work as he captured the distinct qualities and characteristic behaviours of animals, recording traditional farming methods in an unsentimental way. The exhibition explores both his well-observed images of rural Macclesfield in the early 20th century and his commercial successes.

He readily found work illustrating books and in advertising, most famously for Henry Williamson’s 1932 edition of Tarka the Otter. He was not averse, however, to taking commissions and so there are many Tunnicliffe paintings of a beloved pet pooch, pigeon or pussy-cat held in private collections.

This exhibition highlights a number of unseen and early works, including watercolours of Macclesfield and a self-portrait print.

His wife Winifred, whom he met whilst studying at the Royal College of Art, was also an artist and amongst the exhibits there is an example of one of her carved bookcases and a ceramic polar bear.

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