Robbie Bushe


I have shown my narrative paintings throughout the UK since 1990. My work, inspired the characters and the places I have lived and worked, has won several national awards including most recently the inaugural W Gordon Smith painting prize at the Dovecot Galleries in Edinburgh.
Born in Liverpool in 1964, I grew up in Aberdeenshire, before graduating in Painting at Edinburgh College of Art in 1990 and have successfully combined a career as both an artist and art lecturer. I taught painting at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen, was Head of Fine Art at University of Chichester, and also lectured at Kent Institute of Art and Design and Oxford Brookes University. I moved back to Scotland in 2007 to become the coordinator of short courses at Edinburgh College of Art, now part of the University of Edinburgh. I am also the current President of Visual Arts Scotland.

About my work

The thing that motivates me to draw and paint is a desire to make pictures rather than art. As a child I always drew cartoons and as a teenager I became very interested in comic strips and graphic novels. But I was never very interested in writing my own stories or illustrating someone else’s. What I did like was the form of the storyboard. I like the idea that in any frame we are seeing the results of the previous set of frames and the anticipation of what will follow in the next.
I use characters that appear to come from stories in my pictures but they usually only exist in a particular work. I certainly don’t create whole histories or conclusions to their lives, nor would I have a situation clearly defined from the outset. I enjoy inventing characters, involving myself in fake mythology and tackle the technical challenges that spring up. I certainly prefer to be surprised by what I have done. I hope to trigger different stories depending on people’s own set of associations and experiences. However, most of all want people to like it as a picture.
My work is a marriage of daydreams, observation and reconstruction. As a child I would build, demolish and rebuild miniature road networks in the garden based on the routes observed in my 40-mile round trip to school. Now these childhood activities have re-emerged as a crucial research methodology for my work. My current practices take as their starting point sprawling suburban estates and cities built on monumental panoramas – both improvised and real. My drawings follow the same thought processes as I did as a child creating elaborate environments to add buildings, people, narratives and the occasional 1970s TV science fiction reference.

Selected Exhibitions

The Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary, Mall Galleries London
Ghostlands. 3 Person exhibition with Kate Downie and Ronald Plowman, Tatha Gallery, Newport on Tay, Fife
W Gordon Smith Prize exhibition, Dovecot Gallery, Edinburgh
Converge, Visual Arts Scotland, RSA Building, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
National Open Art exhibition, Royal College of Art, London and Pallant House Gallery Chichester
Society of Scottish Artists, RSA Building, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
VAS:T, Visual Arts Scotland, RSA Building, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
Royal Scottish Society of Artists in Watercolour, RSA Building, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
2015, 2014, 2011, 2008, 1999, 97, 96, 93, 92, 91
Royal Scottish Academy, Annual Exhibition, Edinburgh
Solo Show, St Margaret House, Edinburgh
Solo Show, Foyer Gallery, Aberdeen
Solo Show, Otter Gallery, University of Chichester
Sarah Wiseman Gallery Oxford.
Group Show, John Martin Gallery, London
National Open Art, Chichester Festival Theatre
Directors Choice, Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh
AAF Contemporary Art Fair New York, USA
Hinterland, curated touring print exhibition, Pier Arts Centre, Orkney, Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen and Musee des Beaux-Arts, Clermont Ferrand, France
Rendezvous Gallery, Aberdeen
3 Scottish Artists, John Martin Gallery, London
Morrison Portrait Award, The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
Contemporary Scottish Art. 47 Gallery, London
Bruton Gallery, Bath
Solo Show, Peacock Printmakers, Aberdeen
Solo Show, Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
Summer Show, Thackeray Gallery. London.
June Redfern’s Artist’s Choice, Bohun Gallery, Henley on Thames.
Eight Scottish Artists, Thompson’s Gallery, London.
Morrison Portrait Competition Exhibition, Royal Scottish Academy
1994, 93, 91, 89
Contemporary Arts Society, Art Market, Smith Galleries London.
Solo Show, Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
150 years at the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh.
16 Artistes Francois et Ecossais, Espace Languedoc-Rousillon, Montpellier, France.
Barbara Rae’s Artist’s Choice, William Jackson Gallery, London
Solo Show, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
Solo Show, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.
Selkirk Arts Centre, Selkirk, Scottish Borders.

Awards, Prizes and Publications

W Gordon Smith Award (Inaugural) – 1st Prize £10,000. Dovecot Gallery, Infirmary Street Edinburgh
The Turtleton Trust Scottish Art Prize, National Open Art exhibition, Royal College of Art, London and Pallant House Gallery Chichester
Featured Artist in ‘The Drawing Paper 8’ edited collaboratively by Amanda Ravetz
Morrison Portrait Award, Runner up, Royal Scottish Academy
The Guthrie Award, Royal Scottish Academy, Annual Exhibition
The Latimar Award, Royal Scottish Academy Annual Exhibition
The Saltire Society Purchase Prize, Royal Scottish Academy Annual Exhibition.
The Elizabeth Greenshields Award, (Canada)
John Kinross Travelling Scholarship to Florence
Chambers Bursary, Royal Scottish Academy, Student Competition

Professional Experience

2013 – present
President, Visual Arts Scotland.
2016 – present
Lecturer, Art and Design, Centre for Open Learning, University of Edinburgh
2011 – 2016
Short Courses Organiser, Art and Design, Centre for Open Learning, University of Edinburgh
2007 – 2011
Lifelong Learning Coordinator, Edinburgh College of Art
2008, 2005, 2004, 2002 (summers)
Invited Artist, Cyprus College of Art
2005 – 2006
Fine Art Lecturer, Oxford Brookes University
Fine Art Lecturer, Kent Institute of Art and Design (Now UCA)
1999 – 2003
Head of Fine Art, University of Chichester
1991 – 1999
Fine Art Lecturer, Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen
1990 – 1991
Drawing tutor, Edinburgh College of Art


1989 – 1990
Postgraduate Diploma. Painting, Edinburgh College of Art
1985 – 89
Drawing and Painting, BA (Hons) 2,1, Edinburgh College of Art
1984 – 85
HNC Graphic Design, Aberdeen College of Commerce (Now North East Scotland College)