Unbeknownst to most people, there are indeed idyllic places in Essex.
Robbie Burns grew up in one of these, the rural village of Doddinghurst near Brentwood. It was here that she became inspired by the countryside and developed her artist’s eye for nature. However, the big city was an irresistible lure for one endowed with such talent, so following a Youth Training Scheme with a design company on London’s South Bank and a BTEC at Thurrock, she attended the Camberwell School of Art, from which she graduated with 1st class Honours in Illustration.
She had early experience of poetry illustration while still at art school, when she won the Wynkyn de Worde Society competition and illustrated a published edition of Phillip Larkin’s The Whitsunday Weddings. She next embarked on a career as a freelance illustrator, her work appearing in the Radio Times, The Spectator and the Observer magazine, amongst others. She was commissioned by the Town Council of Gravesend in Kent to paint a giant maze on the pavements of the town.
Having got involved in environmental issues, she met Tim Ellis in 1991 while working on a volunteer conservation project in Scotland. She later moved to Harrogate to join him, and was soon employed by a local fudge factory. For several years her line drawings could be found on souvenir fudge boxes in gift shops the length and breadth of Britain.
A vegetarian since her early teens, she has a keen interest in organic vegetable growing and gardening. Birds have always been a major fascination. She is a serial budgie owner, and travels the world walking and bird watching with Tim every winter, bringing home magnificent photographs of the marvels of nature along with inspiration for further pictures. The interior of their house in Harrogate is gradually being transformed into a carved plasterwork replica of the Alhambra in Granada.
She now works part time as a waitress in a well-known Yorkshire Tea Room. Some of her paintings are available to buy at the March Hare Gallery in Ripon, and commissions for paintings and illustrations are always welcome. More information about Robbie can be found on her web site.