Founder of renowned Scottish Sculpture Workshop; Born March 1, 1931; Died May 18, 2009.

Fred Bushe, who has died aged 78, was one of Scotland's finest and most innovative sculptors of the latter half of the twentieth century, whose large-scale outdoor creations can be seen in public spaces around the nation.

But he was best-known, internationally, for founding the influential Scottish Sculpture Workshop in the village of Lumsden, Aberdeenshire, the first of its sculpture-specific kind in the UK. The workshop, now almost 30 years old and still going strong, is not a school but more a centre of artistic companionship and inspiration.

It attracts would-be or experienced sculptors from around the world to experiment and exchange ideas. A big, communal kitchen and dining table in the workshop's "bothy" symbolised Bushe's ideal of communal artistic, cultural and spiritual exchange of ideas.

Eventually backed by the Scottish Arts Council, Bushe took over the old bakery in Lumsden to set up the workshop in 1980, starting with wood and metal carving facilities and later adding a metal foundry, thereby putting the village on the artistic map in Scotland and beyond.

He ran it until failing health forced him to retire in 1996. Thereafter, still living nearby at his home, Rose Cottage, Lumsden, he continued to act as mentor to its participants - the young and not so young from around the world.

As one participant wrote: "When it was good, the SSW (Scottish Sculpture Workshop) was a hothouse, with artists working and talking, supporting and helping each other. When it was bad, it was freezing cold and very isolated."

In 1981, a year after opening the workshop, Bushe took a leaf from his nation's golfing history by launching the biennial Scottish Sculpture Open, held at the historic Kildrummy Castle near Alford. The idea was to allow young sculptors to exhibit their creations in wide-open spaces and against a natural, organic, picturesque non-studio, non-museum backdrop. It became a great success, attracting exhibitors and tourists from around the UK and elsewhere. The "Open" idea was thereafter copied in Glasgow, Edinburgh and many parts south of the border.

As a sculptor, Bushe took inspiration from the great Englishman Anthony Caro but chose his own direction using homespun Scottish materials - whether they were massive slabs of wood or rusty metal plates.

After one of his solo exhibitions, at Edinburgh University's Talbot Rice Centre in 1982, a reviewer wrote: "A prime mover in sculptural affairs in Scotland, Bushe is a big man in ways that are bold, imaginative and adventurous."

Among his best-known works is Grave Gate, in steel and wood, on display in the Sculpture Courtyard of the University of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum. Another is Abstract Frieze, which adorns the entrance to the Science Lecture Rooms in the northern extension to Liverpool University. His wooden creation T-Fold is a proud possession of the Inverness-based Highland Council.

Frederick Joseph William Bushe was born to a Catholic family in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, on March 1, 1931, only son of five children of a local tailor. He studied sculpture at Glasgow School of Art from 1949-53 and spent some time in Nigeria as an education officer during his national service. On his return, he worked for a time as an apprentice welder to finance his art career.

In the mid-1960s, he gained an advanced diploma in art education at Birmingham University's School of Art and went on to teach sculpture in Birmingham, Liverpool and later at Aberdeen College of Education.

He was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in the 1980s and in 1995 was named OBE in the Queen's honours list for his services to sculpture.

Fred Bushe died in a nursing home at Muir of Fowlis, Alford, Aberdeenhire.

He is survived by his wife Fiona (nee Marr), his sons Christopher, Stephen and Robbie, and daughter Claire (from his first marriage to Rosemary Beattie, who also survives him), and by another daughter, Anna, from the marriage to Fiona. By PHIL DAVISON