John Busby RSA RSW SWLA (1928–2015)

About the artist ↓

About the artist - John Busby RSA RSW SWLA (1928–2015)

John Busby RSA RSW SWLA (1928-2015) was an artist, writer, teacher and naturalist. He was born in Bradford in 1928 and after National Service, he studied at Leeds College of Art and then at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) where he was awarded post-graduate and major travel scholarships. On return from France and Italy he was invited to join the staff of ECA, where he taught drawing and painting from 1956 until 1988. 

A member of the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW). He served as President of the Society of Scottish Artists, 1976-79. A life-long bird watcher and naturalist, (at age 17 he was at the inaugural meeting of the Wharfedale Naturalists Society in 1945) he was a founder member of the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA).

Having led courses in Switzerland, Crete, the Falklands and Galapagos Islands, in Orkney and at Nature in Art in Gloucestershire, in 1989 he began a Seabird Drawing course based at North Berwick which has continued each year since, attracting participants from many parts of the world. He took part in projects with the Artists for Nature Foundation (ANF) in Holland, Poland, Spain, Ireland, India, Portugal and Israel, and in SWLA/Forestry Commission projects in the New Forest and in the oak woods in the west of Scotland.

Busby illustrated over 35 books about birds and animals, mostly about behaviour, ranging from seabirds to tigers, garden birds to otters, and also a book of poems by Kenneth Steven called Wild Horses and many of the illustrations in The RSPB Anthology of Wildlife Poetry. His own books also included a booklet Landscapes at the Edge of the Sea in 2010 with his rock pool paintings and another for the first Curious Eye exhibition which he curated at the RSA in 2007.

In 2009 he was declared a Master Wildlife Artist by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin USA.

Busby has exhibited widely both at home and abroad and had a major retrospective exhibition at Bradford City Art Gallery in 1999/2000. More recently a retrospective exhibition, planned before his death, was held at Nature in Art, Glos. in August 2015 and at the Wildlife Art Gallery in Lavenham, Suffolk in November 2017.

He lived near Ormiston in East Lothian and died in Edinburgh in June 2015.

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