Bert Simpson

Contemporary Scottish Artist


Drawing, painting and using my hands has always been an integral part of my life.  I only seem to be truly fulfilled when I have created images and objects using my skills as an artist craftsman.

Born in 1941, I grew up in Shetland during the austere post war years of the forties and fifties in an environment where people recognised each other’s skills and the value they, as individuals, had in the community.

From 1964 to 1966 I attended Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen.  An interest in ceramics took me to Edinburgh College of Art from 1966, where I studied furniture and ceramics and finally graduated after a post graduate year studying industrial design in 1968.  My life as a designer began in architecture with responsibility for various aspects of furniture and fittings.  This led to several years with the renowned Edinburgh practice of Sir Basil Spence and Partners.

In 1974 big changes took place when I left the office job and went freelance to seek the good life.  During those first few years I was designing and building a house, and developing a pottery business – exciting times!  Stonecroft Studios was up and running, producing a range of domestic pottery and one-off studio pots, some of which ended up in collections throughout the UK and America.  I was also painting and exhibited in many group shows in and around Edinburgh.  In 1998, however, my personal circumstances changed and I had to close the pottery.  I continued with freelance design work and through a design project I found myself interpreting ground probing radar images covering archaeology and geotechnical engineering projects.  This was interesting work which lasted until 1998 when I finally had an opportunity to paint full-time.

At last, my chance to move back North to my comfort zone.  Although Shetland beckoned, I decided to settle in Orkney for various family reasons.  Painting has become an all-consuming activity in my life, interspersed with some serious renovation work on the property that now serves as my home, studio and gallery.  I have had successful exhibitions in the Shetland Museum Gallery in 2000, 2002 and 2004.  In Orkney I have exhibited in the Orkney Gallery and the Loft Gallery and participated in a group show at the Pier Arts Centre.

My work has been accepted and exhibited by the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour, the Royal Scottish Academy, Aberdeen Artists Society and the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts who awarded me the N S McFarlane Prize in 2005.  I have participated in several group shows at the Leith Gallery and I am preparing for a one man show in the Spring of 2008.