Robert E Fuller is a British artist best known for his wildlife paintings. His high-detailed images have been purchased by clients such as the RSPCA and the National Trust, and have been exhibited in wildlife galleries across Europe and in his own gallery in North Yorkshire.
Robert recently travelled to the Galapagos Islands to paint the unique wildlife of the region and we interviewed him to find out more about his unforgettable experience.
Thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions for us about your experiences on the Galapagos. To begin with, could you let us know a little about yourself and why you were drawn to the Galapagos Islands for your work?
As a wildlife artist I’m fascinated by wild creatures and, like all people interested in nature, a trip to the Galapagos Islands was a lifelong ambition. It was a chance to see species that don’t exist anywhere else in the world and to get up close to these unique creatures. A dream come true.
Did you conduct any research on the islands prior to departure? If so, how did you go about that?
I did. I was particularly interested in Darwin’s connections with the archipelago and how the islands and the wildlife that led Darwin to make his ground-breaking evolutionary theories have changed since his visit in 1835. What I discovered, however, was even more interesting. As an artist when I began to look through the material written about Darwin’s voyage, I was naturally drawn to the illustrations of the species that Darwin had encountered and I began to wonder if he had drawn them himself.
I contacted the director of Darwin Online, an online resource encompassing all of Darwin’s work, who told me that Darwin was actually hopeless at drawing and his sketches of the island constituted of a few wobbly lines in pencil.
This got me interested in who had drawn the first images of the Galapagos and its wildlife. It turned out that there had originally been an official artist on the voyage, but that a lack of funds had meant he was made redundant before the ship reached the Galapagos. And in any case Conrad Marten, a landscape artist, did not value the wildlife he encountered – to the extent that Darwin had to stop him cooking and eating a rare Patagonian rhea bird. It turned out that the beautiful illustrations that had caught my eye in Darwin’s publications were actually drawn by artists in the UK long after his return from the Galapagos.