Yorkshire Wolds wildlife artist Robert E Fuller has spent five years studying miniature mustelids living in his garden, getting to know by sight six generations of the same stoat family.
Now, a new collection of his artwork, inspired by his close surveillance of the small creatures, is going on display at an exhibition that opens at his self-named art gallery in Thixendale on Saturday.
Wild About Stoats And Weasels: An Artist’s Perspective will include camera footage shot inside the mammals’ nests as well as photographs that informed the new artworks.
Mr Fuller, who charts his observations of the creatures in his column in The Yorkshire Post this weekend, said: “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.”
The artist built habitats to keep stoats and weasels in his two-acre plot and used more than 60 surveillance cameras to follow their movements.
Despite the surveillance, both mammals proved extremely difficult to follow. As long and thin as a cucumber, stoats are masters of disguise that are capable of turning white in winter snows, while weasels are small enough to slip through openings as wide as wedding rings.
“At times they were so elusive,” Mr Fuller said. “It took all my skill to keep track of them and record their intimate worlds.”
The artist’s studies of the creatures has also been captured on film to feature in the next series of the BBC’s Natural World. Produced by the BBC Natural History Unit, the documentary makers have also produced BBC shows Blue Planet and Planet Earth.
Mr Fuller’s new exhibition will run at The Robert Fuller Gallery in Thixendale until July 7. Admission is free.