12th October 2022 by

Robbie Bushe won the Landscape/Cityscape/Seascape Award in the Jackson’s Painting Prizethis year with his work Learney Incantation (Tornaveen). In this interview, artist and previous winner of the same award, Sarah Bold, asks Robbie about his practice, materials and finding inspiration in 1970s science fiction.


Sarah: First of all, can you tell us how you came to be a painter?

Robbie: My dad was a sculptor (formal, metal and wood, a bit like Anthony Caro) and Mum did performance, design, poetry and much more – she was brilliant. I was always going to have the arts in my spirit and I could draw. In my early years, I used this skill to imagine the world through stories and characters. I devoured British comic books such as 2000AD and Judge Dredd in the late 1970s, as much for their team of talented young comic artists as the social political satires set in the near future. I was fascinated by their use of scratchy dip pens and bold black and white ink artwork. I developed my own style and soon was creating my own comic strips which traded at school for sweets. I was heading for art school to be a comic book artist. However, when I got to Edinburgh College of Art, there was no comic book artist course, just very conventional illustration, which I had no interest in. But this was the 1980s and making a lot of noise in the west at Glasgow School of Art were the new Glasgow Boys; Steven Campbell, Peter Howson, Adrian Wiszniewski, and Ken Curry. They made bombastic and surreal narrative figurative paintings which felt a bit like new comic book art writ large. I was green-eyed but hooked. I studied painting at Edinburgh, which at the time favoured a decorative colourist and close tone approach from the ghosts of Anne Redpath and William Gillies. So, my work evolved from the overtly graphic figuration tempered by subtle brushwork of neutral and muted colours.