Elected ARSA: 18 March 1987
Elected RSA: 25 May 2005
John Busby was born in Yorkshire. The landscape of
Wharfedale, where he grew up, shaped his thoughts in
childhood; he explored streams to the Source, cycled
the war-time quiet roads, drew and learned the rhythms
of nature. He carried these landscapes in his mind's eye
throughout his life. For John, it wasn't just the discovery of
the moorland haunts of the merlin and nightjar that excited
him, but equally the mysterious marks of Bronze Age man
carved into the rock of that moorland. The spirit of place, the
reading of symbol and shape within the landscape, have run
like threads through John's work.
He went to Leeds School of Art and then to Edinburgh
College of Art, where, after his post graduate and Traveller,
he eventually joined the staff of the Drawing and Painting
School, and where he remained for 30 years. He was the
most supportive and generous of tutors and a well-loved
He developed his practice as a painter and illustrator
with Residences, Travel Awards and Sabbaticals to Such
diverse places as Orkney, Aldabra, the Falklands and the
Galapagos |slands. His work with Artists for Nature took
him to conservation projects in The Netherlands, Poland,
Extremadura, India, Portugal and |srael. A great traveller,
John was nevertheless, active on the Scottish art scene,
becoming President of the SSA from 1976-79 and as a
member of the RSW from 1982 and the RSA from 1985.
In 2007, John curated the successful and well received
The Curious Eye for the RSA. After his retirement he ran
many drawing courses on the Bass Rock and was External
Examiner for Natural History lllustration at the Royal
College of Art. Nearer to his home in Scotland, moorland
and coastlines of East Lothian have provided endlessly
fascinating Sources of inspiration, resulting in a Series of
paintings of rock pools, cloudscapes and hillsides.
John has written widely on his interpretation of nature
as a painter, and has illustrated many books, making a
Significant contribution to the observation of the natural
world, inspiring and enthusing generations of wildlife artists.
He has exhibited widely and internationally; in 1999 he
had a retrospective exhibition at Bradford City Art Gallery
and a major show at Nature in Art, Gloucestershire in 2015.
Unfortunately John did not live to see this last exhibition.
John's boyhood sense of wonder and involvement with the
landscape never left him. His enthusiasm masked his ageing.
Alifelong Christian he shared a love of music with his wife
Joan a distinguished Singer and teacher.
In John's own words : " ...The roots of landscape experience
go deep into our Subconscious and its mood's reflect our
States of being.... landscape becomes a metaphor in art and
music and literature for spiritual dimensions"(Land Marks
and Sea Wings, John Busby, Published : The Wildlife Art
RSA Obituary by Victoria Crowe RSA