Birds of prey stamp issue

The work of local artist Dr Jeremy Paul features on the newest stamp issue by Isle of Man Stamps and Coins, featuring our Biosphere’s Bird of Prey. We speak with him about the release, and his work.

The work of local artist Dr Jeremy Paul features on the newest stamp issue by Isle of Man Stamps and Coins, featuring our Biosphere’s Bird of Prey. We speak with him about the release, and his work:

Tell us about your career as an artist to date?

My only art qualification is a grade three O-level. I trained as a marine biologist at the Marine Biological Station in Port Erin and didn’t set out to be a professional artist, but, as happens with many marine biologists, I had a long period of unemployment after working on a remote Island off Skye in the early 1980s. I had started doing a few paintings while there and just continued.

I had seen some paintings by the Canadian artist Robert Bateman that took my breath away and I said ‘I want to be able to do that’. I am entirely self-taught and it has been a 40-year learning process.

We returned to the Island in 1988 and became a full-time professional artist in 1990, and, by painting every day, developed skill and techniques that led to a rapid improvement in my paintings. However, I am still learning.

How did your love of nature come about and what inspired it?

I have always been interested in the natural world and fail to understand how anyone isn’t. I grew up in Accrington, Lancashire – not exactly a haven for wildlife, but it had moorland and wild areas nearby. I was always just fascinated by all things in nature.

My interest in marine biology came from watching Jacques Cousteau television programmes – mostly of him diving in exotic locations. I thought ‘I could do that’. I never did get to work on tropical reefs.

How do you get among, appreciate and capture wildlife so you can paint it?

All my paintings come from my own experiences and I won’t paint anything unless I have seen it and photographed it myself. I spend a lot of time ‘in the field’ looking for settings and wildlife that may inspire a painting.

My early paintings were all local wildlife, but, over the years, I have managed to travel to see wildlife in many parts of the world and these trips then get reflected in the paintings I produce. I take many hundreds of photographs of everything I see and generally use multiple images as reference to create a composition. I have established a full reference library of the wildlife and the environment of each place.

I have been extremely fortunate in seeing and photographing spectacular wildlife, but have probably done more paintings of birds from my garden than anything else.

You have exhibited all over the world and your work is acclaimed and award-winning. What have been the highlights to date?

My first exhibition in 1983 (Ashford, Kent) gave me such a thrill and made me think it might be possible to make a success of painting. I used to paint for a couple of hours every evening, even though I was then back working full-time as a marine biologist. This laid the foundation for my success later.

I realised one of my first art ambitions in 1994 by having a painting selected for ‘Birds in Art’, a major exhibition in the USA regarded as the most prestigious exhibition for ‘bird artists’ worldwide. I have since had paintings selected on 11 occasions (including this year).

Although I didn’t win the overall title, I won a category of the ‘BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year’ three times (2010, 2011, 2012).

Here on the Island, a major highlight was a three-month exhibition at the Manx Museum in 2013 and the delight of seeing my work on banners on Douglas's promenades.

Being commissioned for the first time to produce paintings for stamps in 1997 was such an honour – and the thrill of seeing the first sheet of stamps with my work on them is hard to describe, as well as when a letter arrived with one of ‘my’ stamps on it.

How did the commission for the Birds of Prey stamps issued by Isle of Man Stamps and Coins this month come about?

Since the first set of stamps in 1997 I have been honoured to do a number of issues over the years. The discussions about this new series started early last year and I suggested Birds of Prey as we hadn’t included many of them on previous bird series. Conveniently, we have six species which can be seen regularly here on the Island – the number of images required for the issue. The paintings were all completed by December last year.

How did you create the paintings that feature on the stamps?

I decided to produce a set of portraits, particularly focusing on the eyes of these amazing birds. I used many of my own photographs of wild birds, but also of captive falconry birds and even museum specimens. All of them are in acrylic, building up the layers of paint to give the final effect.

Chris Sharpe MBE, founder of Manx BirdLife and the Manx Bird Atlas, has written the text for the stamps. How have you worked together?

I first worked with Chris back in 2006 when he produced the Manx Bird Atlas, for which I did the cover artwork. A set of stamps was issued at the same time, so Chris provided the text for those and has done far all subsequent ‘bird’ stamps of mine – he has a much better knowledge and is much better at writing about birds than I am.

Is there an animal, or special place for nature, etc, you have yet to see and would like to paint?

I have been fortunate in seeing some spectacular places and wildlife around the world, but the two missing from my ‘list’ are mountain gorillas (Uganda/Rwanda) and jaguars (Brazil). One day, maybe.

Where can people see and order the stamps and associated products?

Via Isle of Man Stamps and Coins website.

Where can we see and buy your wider body of work?

I have an exhibition at Studio 42 in Port St Mary from September 3rd to October 14th which includes the original paintings for the stamps. I also have most of my work on my website, including a range of limited edition prints and ‘stamp prints’ of the new stamps.

My prints are also available from Manx National Heritage and, Manx Wildlife Trust’s gift shop in Peel and the Port Erin Gaslight gift shop in Castletown and you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

Posted up on 29th August 2023


If you love the Isle of Man and want to help keep it special, there are a variety of ways to get involved in UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man projects. Here are a few suggestions.

Please help us spread the word about Biosphere Isle of Man!