John Busby
RSA (1928 - 2015)

  • Associate Elected : 18/03/1987
  • Academician Elected : 05/05/2015

BIOGRAPHY

  • Associate Elected : 18/03/1987
  • Academician Elected : 05/05/2015

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 colleague.

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 Islands. His work with Artists for Nature took him to conservation projects in The Netherlands, Poland, Extremadura, India, Portugal and Israel. 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 Illustration 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. A lifelong 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 Gallery, Lavenham).