The Boultbee Project

The Project

The Boultbee Project is a study I undertook in partial fulfillment for my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Thompson Rivers University.

Family legend has it that an ancestor came from the village of Boltby in North Yorkshire in troubled times and was obliged to assume a disguise and work as a basket maker. This oral tradition in my father’s family has been handed down from generation to generation and seems not to have been written down until the late 19th century. The troubled times could refer to the Peasants' Revolt (1381) or the Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536 and 1537. Although the cause of the move is unknown, the family did establish itself 200 kilometres south of Boltby in the village of Griffydam, Northwest Leicestershire, where an ancestor did live for some time as a basket maker. This ancestor would be the first (that we know of) in a long line of artisans and artists. They include shoemakers and glovemakers, painters and drawers, photographers and architects, printmakers and sculptors.

The Boultbee Project is my opportunity to reflect on and respond to selected works from a number of these ancestral artisans/artists, including the basket maker (14th/15th century), sporting painters (18th century), shoemakers/glovemakers and ceramic painters (19th century), and photographers, printmakers, and painters (20th century/21st century).

Paul Boultbee

July 2022

Abbott, Andrew. “Boltby Village.” Geograph, 2016,

The Village

Boltby is a village and civil parish in the Hambleton District of North Yorkshire, England. It is on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. Boltby is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Boltebi in the Yalestre hundred. After the Norman invasion, the land was owned by Hugh, son of Baldric. He granted Lordship of the local manor to Gerald of Boltby. Previously the Lord of the manor was Sumarlithi, son of Karli. (

The Methodology

I began my investigations with a family history which was initially compiled by the Reverend Thomas Pownall Boultbee and brought together in book form by his brother in 1889. The original work was updated in 1994 by cousins Patrick Boultbee and Elizabeth Boultbee. Once I had read through this document I had a list of artists and artisans who would form the basis of my project. Subsequent searches of the internet revealed several other family artists from the late 20th and early 21st centuries not listed in the updated version. Once I had my list of artists I narrowed my focus in order to concentrate on the work of eleven artists and a family of artisans.

Navigating the Site

The Basket Maker: This section sets the stage for the Boultbee family of artists and artisans. It outlines what we know of the basket maker of family legend and speculates on his flight from North Yorkshire to Leicestershire.

The Artists: This section forms the bulk of the Boultbee Project. The artists are listed in chronological order beginning with the 18th century sporting painter, John Boultbee, through to the 21st century's Ryan Lee Boultbee. The only exception to this order is in the "All Things Fishy" page where I have responded to the work of two female artists, one from the 19th century and one from the 20th. Each page in this section consists of the original art work to which I am responding and the piece I have created to accompany the original work. There are also sections of text to accompany each image.

The Research: This page lists a variety of sources I used to gather my material. What is not reflected here is the debt I owe to any number of named and unnamed genealogists who have spent and continue to spend countless hours gathering and collating the kind of information that was invaluable to me.


Thank you to amateur and professional genealogists everywhere who seek out, compile, and organize vast amounts of information which has made my project so much easier.

Thank you to my supervisor, Doug Buis, Associate Professor, Visual Arts, Thompson Rivers University, for his interest in this project, our long phone calls, his valuable comments, and his enthusiasm for this study.

Thank you to the several Thompson Rivers University staff members who worked on my behalf to ensure that I was able to complete my degree through TRU with such ease.

Thank you to the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery for giving me the opportunity to exhibit my paintings in the fall of 2022.

Thank you especially to my wife and fellow artist, Glynis Wilson Boultbee for her unlimited belief in this project and her support throughout my journey in pursuit of this BFA degree.


John Boultbee, The Durham Ox: This image is in the public domain. []

Rosalind Boultbee. Untitled (Landscape): This image is an uncredited family photograph.

Michael Hannaford. Devon Cliffs: This image is an uncredited family photograph.

Alfred Ernest Boultbee. Untitled (Landscape): This image is from An Account of the Family of Boultbee. 1889. Edited by Patrick Boultbee and Elizabeth Boultbee. 1994.

Alfred Ernest Boultbee. Birch Trees: This image is from An Account of the Family of Boultbee. 1889. Edited by Patrick Boultbee and Elizabeth Boultbee. 1994.

Rosamond Longfield-Smith. High Park: This image is an uncredited family photograph.

William Stair Boultbee. Picton, Ontario: This image is an uncredited family photograph.

Constance Edith Boultbee. Birch Trees: Image photograph by Paul Boultbee.

Joseph Edwin (Joe) Boultbee. Tarifa, Spain: © the artist. Courtesy of Imperial Health Charity Art Collection.

Edith Hannaford Boultbee. Fish Plate: Image photograph by Paul Boultbee.

Leslie Boultbee. Smells Fishy: © the artist. Permission to use this image has been granted by the artist.

Ryan Lee Boultbee. ME + HOME = ART. © the artist. Permission to use this image has been granted by the artist.