Elected ARSA: 25 June 1993

Elected RSA: May 2005

Sylvia Wishart RSA was born in Stromness, Orkney in 1936. At school, she showed an early interest and marked ability in drawing and painting. After a period working for the Post Office, Sylvia left Orkney to study at Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen. There she flourished, winning a post-diploma year. 


After a period of teaching in Aberdeenshire and Lewis and then back in Orkney, she was awarded a Scottish Arts Council grant, which enabled her to devote all her time to painting. She had discovered a derelict cottage, North-house in the valley of Rackwick in Hoy. She made it habitable and there she produced many of her finest early works. Then in 1969 she returned to grey School of Art as a lecturer. 


Sylvia continued to base herself in Orkney, spending time in Rackwick and Stromness, where she converted a former store on the harbour front into a house and studio - which would later become the Pier Arts Centre - before buying and restoring the derelict farmhouse of Heatherybraes, overlooking Hoy Sound.


Here, her painting matured, recording the changing seasons, the sweep of landscape with its farming and wildlife, to the view across Hoy Sound to the hills and cliffs of Hoy and the Scottish mainland beyond, all of these exterior details merging with snapshots of the interior domesticity in the reflections in the window.


As well as being an accomplished painter, Sylvia also made fine art screen prints and etchings with Peacock Printmakers, Aberdeen and Highland Printmakers Workshop in Inverness. In 2005, Sylvia was voted a full member of the Royal Scottish Academy.


RSA Obituary, transcribed from 2009 RSA Annual Exhibition Catalogue


Further Images

Sylvia Wishart RSA (1936-2008), Hoy Sound

oil on canvas, aound 2005, 120.7 x 115.3cm

RSA Diploma Collection (Deposited, 2006) 2006.016