Category Archives: Exhibitions

Free exhibition of Scottish wildlife art in Inverness Cathedral

Black grouse on wall, oil painting, 'My Ark for Nature', Inverness Cathedral

Black grouse on wall, oil, from Jonathan’s exhibition, ‘My Ark for Nature’ in Inverness Cathedral

Jonathan’s exhibition, ‘My Ark for Nature’ runs in Inverness Cathedral from Friday 1st – Wednesday 7th June. entrance free. The show is open daily 9.30am – 5.30pm and Sunday 1pm – 6pm.  

The show displays Jonathan’s Scottish wildlife pictures, postcards and prints.  It will be an interactive exhibition, in which Jonathan will draw and talk about his work, showing the process of turning ideas into finished pictures.  Visitors will also be invited to share their own stories about wildlife.  

The Cathedral is a friendly community, offering a warm welcome.  There is a cafe open daily and plentiful parking alongside.

All are welcome.  Community groups are welcome to pay a visit to use as inspiration for their own projects.   There is quiet space in the Cathedral to work alongside the exhibition.  

Any groups wishing to do please let the organisers know in advance, on 07515 709 179.

Installation in Perthshire Open Studios



Installation at St Serf’s for Perthshire Open Studios

Getting ready for Perthshire Open Studios

Getting ready for Perthshire Open Studios

Bird boxes - film - songbirds - Jonathan Sainsbury

Bird boxes holding film of songbirds hung alongside pictures: a collaboration with the charity Songbird Survival

Jonathan built his installation, 6m x 3m, in the back half of St Serf’s Episcopal Church, Comrie, opening to the public from Saturday 3rd – Wednesday 7th September 2016.

Two hundred people visited during that time.  A sample of comments in the visitors book read ‘Special and uplifting as ever’, ‘Wonderful to see such stunning work.  Hair raising.’, ‘Superb!’, ‘Excellent exhibition’, ‘Beautiful!’, ‘Absolutely lovely!’, ‘Really enjoyed paintings’, ‘Fabulous!’, ‘Gorgeous work, set out beautifully’, ‘Deeply humbling!’, ‘Beautiful pictures, very detailed’, ‘Fantastic local wildlife.  Great work and quality.’ ‘Hares and corncrakes – wow!’

Jonathan Sainsbury: Ark of British Wildlife painting

My Ark For Nature: Much-loved and Endangered British wildlife, watercolour by Jonathan Sainsbury

The installation grew out of Jonathan’s vision of an ark to hold all his favourite British wildlife, some endangered, some not.  This was his first watercolour sketch, of an ark with birds and animals inside and around it.  He imagined an installation combining the wooden appearance of an ark and, for practical reasons,  a shed.

Jonathan Sainsbury sketch for Ark display space

Jonathan Sainsbury sketch for Ark display space

Jonathan Sainsbury Ark display

Jonathan Sainsbury sketch for Ark installation

To the original plans, Jonathan planned to add blank paper panels that he could draw, in charcoal, through the course of the installation.



Jonathan Sainsbury paints wrens


'Inspector of the Woodland Vaults' - European Wren 19 x 28 inches

Inspector of the Woodland Vaults
Bramble and Wren
Watercolour and charcoal, 19 x 28 inches

Jonathan Sainsbury loves to paint wrens.  His picture of a European Wren, ‘Inspector of the Woodland Vaults’ was shown in 2015 in the 55th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Animal Artists, held at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, New York.

Jonathan says, ‘Wrens fill the woods near my home with their song.  It amazes me how such a tiny bird can have such a big voice.  That makes them attractive to me.’

He explains his inspiration for this picture.  ‘There is a Ted Hughes poem, likening the wren to a little mouse, scuttling through undergrowth.  When I read the poem, there was a phrase that caught my eye, where he likens the wren to an ‘inspector of the woodland vaults’.   This gave me an image of a wren in ‘vaults’ of brambles.

‘I had just been painting and sketching brambles.  The weather conditions had made the leaves and stalks particularly colourful that summer, showing deep purples and crimsons.  I began to sketch different ideas in pencil, for a combination of wren and brambles, leading to this composition, which I then painted in watercolour.’

Jonathan Sainsbury in American art exhibition

Jonathan Sainsbury watercolour plums and peacock butterflies

‘Plums and peacocks’ – watercolour – 21 x 29 inches

Art judges chose Jonathan Sainsbury’s watercolour ‘Peacocks and Plums’ out of more than five hundred entries for inclusion in the 56th Annual Art and the Animal Exhibition, showcase of the international Society of Animal Artists.

Now in its 56th year, this exhibition seeks to present the very best in contemporary artistic interpretation of animals and birds, in two and three dimensions.  The exhibition is hosted each year by a different Museum venue around the United States.  This year the show will open at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, before touring round various museums in New Jersey, Kansas and Ohio.

Jonathan’s painting, a fine watercolour illustration of peacock butterflies and plums, was inspired by observation of a tree in his own garden.  The painting is part of a series showing branches of British trees, with birds and insects, that belongs to a tradition of watercolour illustration, led by the painter James John Audubon in the eighteenth century.  








Jonathan Sainsbury picture in ‘Birds in Art’ 2016


'Birds in Art', Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Jonathan Sainsbury 'Wren's Larder' - Oak branch, wren, mosses

‘Wren’s Larder’ Oak Branch with wren
Watercolour and charcoal – 30 x 46 inches.

Jonathan’s painting ‘Wren’s Larder’ was chosen for the 41st ‘Birds in Art’ exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin.  This is the most prestigious show world-wide dedicated to bird art.  The exhibition opens Saturday 10th September 2016.


Art workshop by Jonathan Sainsbury

Jonathan Sainsbury painting in St Serf's Church, Comrie
Jonathan Sainsbury demonstrates drawing and painting in watercolour at a workshop at St Serf’s Church, Comrie
“I chose a piece of raspberry that was growing in the wildflower meadow behind the church for my demonstration piece.  There was a mature, fruiting branch with a few leaves that were beginning to curl at the edge and a curve on the branch that had potential to create the central shape in the painting.  I drew that first as a tiny sketch in pencil, placing  a blackbird on it, eating the fruit. Behind that, I introduced a new shoot, a different green, growing straight, which is the growth and the fruiting for next year.  It’s a ‘circle of life’ picture.
On the day I used the tiny pencil sketch to demonstrate drawing with charcoal on to watercolour paper, then adding watercolour to the image.  
Lots of people came to the day and enjoyed finding inspiration in the meadow, then working out their ideas in paint and charcoal and pastel inside.  
The picture will be auctioned in the near future to raise funds.”


Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge talking with Jonathan Sainsbury

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge talking with Jonathan Sainsbury about his paintings

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in their capacity as Earl and Countess of Strathearn, visited Strathearn in rural Perthshire, Scotland.  Jonathan Sainsbury met the couple and talked about his paintings at an exhibition in Forteviot Village Hall on Thursday 29th May 2014.

Jonathan explains.  ‘Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge said they liked my oil painting ‘Spring Pheasants Diary’.  The Duchess asked if I only painted birds and I said I also did mammals, landscape, everything related to nature. Prince William commented on the size – the picture is 39 inches high by 48 inches wide – and said ‘The detail is amazing!’  I said the art lay in getting a balance between illustration and impression and in translating a three dimensional world into two dimensions.’

In the background of the photograph, two paintings are visible: the oil, ‘Spring Pheasants Diary’39 x 48 ins and the watercolour and charcoal, ‘Ravens Square’, 28 x 28 ins, shown below.


Spring Pheasants Diary - oil 39 x 48 ins

Spring Pheasants Diary © Jonathan Sainsbury, oil, 39 x 48 ins,

Detail of Spring Pheasants Diary

Detail of Spring Pheasants Diary, oil, 39 x 48 ins


Ravens Square - watercolour and charcoal - 28 x 28 ins, £3,950

Ravens Square, watercolour and charcoal, 28 x 28 ins, £3,950

Both these images and their details can be found here: Square Series.  For enquiries email