Neoneanderthals: Robbie Bushe RSA & Jeanne Cannizzo

The Finlay Room, RSA Lower Galleries


NeoNeanderthals is a collaborative project between artists Robbie Bushe RSA and Jeanne Cannizzo. Using scientific data on the inheritance left by the Neanderthals, the artists ‘revisit’ the popular image of hairy, low-browed, unintelligent beings who were killed off by superior humans. But they are not totally extinct, in that Neanderthal DNA circulates within some living human populations as a result of interbreeding.


The objects, animations, and large drawings reveal a story: a meeting between a Neanderthal and a modern human; the birth of their offspring; and scientific attempts to clone ancient human and animal forms. In these fantastic worlds the themes of cultural or physical similarities and differences and first encounters between strangers are explored.


Robbie Bushe RSA has exhibited his distinctive narrative works throughout the UK since 1990, winning several national awards including the Guthrie Medal at the Royal Scottish Academy and in 2016 the inaugural W Gordon Smith painting prize. Born in Liverpool in 1964, he grew up in Aberdeenshire, before graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 1990. Since then he has successfully worked as both an artist and lecturer; first at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, then at the University of Chichester (where he was the Head of Fine Art) before moving on to Kent Institute of Art and Design and Oxford Brookes University. In 2007, he became coordinator of short courses at Edinburgh College of Art, and now as part of the University of Edinburgh. He was President of Visual Arts Scotland from 2013-16 and was elected a member of the RSA in 2017.


Dr Jeanne Cannizzo is an anthropologist, curator and artist and was senior lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh until 2009. Cannizzo’s work explores cross-cultural encounters, the complexities of the relationship of the past and the present, and the intersection of art and anthropology. As well as exhibiting internationally, including a solo exhibition at Winchester Modern in Victoria, British Columbia, Jeanne has been an occasional guest curator at Scottish National Portrait Gallery and also cocreated Smugglerius Unveiled with artist Joan Smith at Talbot Rice Gallery in 2010 exploring a plaster cast from the flayed body of a criminal who was hanged in 1776 still a part of the cast collection at ECA.


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