Robin Philipson was born in Broughton-in-Furness, Lancashire, but had a close affinity for Scotland. Before serving in the Second World War, he had studied at Edinburgh College of Art, and later rejoined as a tutor. His first solo exhibition was held at The Scottish Gallery (Edinburgh, 1954) after which he regularly exhibited in the city. A member of the Society of Scottish Artists, the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour, he became Head of Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art in 1960. In 1973 he became President of the Royal Scottish Academy. His work is represented in public collections in London, Glasgow, Manchester, Aberdeen and Nottingham.
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