Vibha Pankaj

Vibha Pankaj

About the Artist

Vibha is a Scottish-Indian artist based in Edinburgh, where she has lived for the past twenty-four years. She was born in India and grew up with the Himalayas as a backdrop. She is largely a self-taught artist who started painting at an early age. Her education was in biological sciences – she obtained her MPhil from the University of Swansea and was awarded a doctorate for her thesis on knowledge mobilisation in public health from the University of Edinburgh. In Scotland she worked for the NHS and has also had short stints with the voluntary sector and the Scottish Government. She took up painting full time after taking early retirement in 2017 – to explore avenues for her artistic journey she undertook short courses at Edinburgh College of Art.

Vibha has exhibited her work widely, including a solo exhibition, Amaranthine, at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh, in 2020.

A collection of Vibha’s paintings has been published as a collaborative poetry and art venture entitled Patient Dignity (Scotland Street Press, 2021).

Vibha is currently expanding her horizons by painting in the Swiss Alps.      It’s a great pleasure to welcome Vibha to the Junor Gallery!


Artist’s statement

My artistic inspiration comes from my lived in life – from childhood stories about humanity’s relationship with the environment and from time spent in places with abundant natural beauty. Walks on Scottish hills continue to ignite my deep-rooted connection with nature – its offer of hope, comfort, freedom and unconditional friendship. After all, the basic elements of our existence include space, water, air and earth, as per ancient Indian philosophy.

My process of painting is varied – most of the works originate entirely from memories and feelings, some from photographs taken during walks and others through an amalgamation of imagination and observation. I grew up in India and now live in Scotland – my past and present intertwine in my art. I believe that the interplay of light, wind, water (streams and rain) on the natural environment in fast changing weather displays magical scenarios waiting to be captured.

Living in Edinburgh, I feel that I am fortunate to be a constant recipient of the magical gifts from Scottish hills. They always offer something new through the changing seasons and weather – beaming with different colours and sounds – the varying shades of gorse, shimmering trees and singing birds.

While COVID and the resulting lockdown was a source of anguish, I observed a new zeal in the hills and woods – children flying kites, bikes whizzing past, families walking, jogging and enjoying picnics, regular dog walkers – a pleasant escape from isolation. Resilience, radiance, hope and ephemeral darkness were the sentiments projected by nature during the lockdown. It was exhilarating to see the hills full of hope and joy in the face of despair – this paradox inspired some of my paintings done during the lockdown and which are shown in this exhibition.

Find out more on Vibha’s website, here. Follow her on Instagram here.