The Needle and the Damage Done

Press/Media: Expert Comment


Art critcal review by Susan Mansfied in The Scotsman newpaper magazine (29/04/17) of three exhibtions;

  • Graham MacIndoe: Coming Clean, Scottish National Portrait Gallery
  • Adrian Wiszniewski: The Night Gardener, Open Eye Gallery
  • Robbie Bushe: Invasions and Excavations, Open Eye Gallery


Robbie Bushe, who was named last year as the winner of the inaugural W Gordon Smith Award, is a near-contemporary of Wisniewski, and the paintings in his first exhibition at the Open Eye would sit well with the Vigorous Imagination artists. His blend of the surreal, the allegorical and the satirical, and his magpie eye, collaging images from art history, popular culture and his own subconscious, are reminiscent of Steven Campbell, in particular.

Bushe’s works are figurative, but usually feature large crowds, often on multiple levels, with a variety of dramas going on at once. Buildings open up, doll’s house-like, to reveal further stories within. Some are plays on words, like Self Storage. Others use architectural landmarks – the Forth Bridges, Edinburgh College of Art. Sections of the paintings use different dominant colours, helping to make them – while busy – pleasing to the eye. Immensely detailed, they layer surrealism with politics and black humour. In one painting, road signs give the distance in miles to “Disappointment” and “Bewilderment”.

Many of them feature walls and barriers, people struggling to get in or queuing to get out. All is grey on one side of New Hadrian’s Wall, while lush, green fields extend on the other. The Mexican Border, which predates Trump’s proposed wall but takes on fresh resonance in light of it, has shadowy figures patrolling the barrier between Mexico (colourful, free-form) and the United States (stilted, like an up-market restaurant depicted in shades of pink). At times, there is so much going on in a Bushe painting that one struggles to know where to look. Again, rather like Steven Campbell’s, each one presents a conundrum of ideas and narratives you suspect you will never solve; but you know it will be fun to try.


Period29 May 2017

Media coverage


Media coverage

  • TitleThe Needle and the Damage Done
    Media name/outletThe Scotsman Newspaper
    Media typePrint
    Producer/AuthorSusan Masfield
    PersonsRobbie Bushe


  • art,
  • exhibition
  • painting
  • open eye gallery
  • Graham McIndoe
  • Adrian Wisznnieski
  • Susan Masfield
  • The Scotsman
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