Artist John Byrne's portrait paints Billy Connolly as he is nowImage copyright John Byrne
Image caption Artist John Byrne’s portrait paints Billy Connolly as he is now

Three huge murals are to be put up in Glasgow city centre as a tribute to comedian Billy Connolly, who will be 75 this year.

The murals will be created from original works by top Scottish artists Jack Vettriano, John Byrne and Rachel Maclean.

They will all be more than 50ft (16m) high.

The work to create the murals will be carried out this month and will be showcased in a BBC programme in June.

Image copyright Jack Vettriano
Image caption Jack Vettriano’s portrait is called Dr Connolly, I presume?

John Byrne, who is an old friend of the Big Yin, painted a portrait of him in the 1970s, but his latest work is the veteran comedian as he is now.

The artist said Connolly was “a phenomenon” and a “one-off”.

His portrait will be transferred to a wall end in Osborne Street in the city centre.

Vettriano said he was “a huge fan” of Connolly, who has been a major star for more than 40 years and will be 75 in November.

His painting from the comedian’s World Tour of Scotland series in 1994, features a wind-blown Billy on a storm-lashed coast near John O’Groats.

It will be showcased in Dixon Street.

Image copyright Rachel Maclean
Image caption Rachel Maclean has created a digital print of Billy Connolly in a specially-created outfit

Rachel Maclean, who is currently representing Scotland in the Venice Biennale, said: “I think there is a kind of responsibility representing Billy because he is so well-known.

“He is this kind of national treasure within Scotland.”

Her digital print shows Connolly in a specially-created outfit, replete with motifs from his career such as ‘mini bike parked in bum’ epaulettes, a sporran with an ‘aged’ nose sprouting hair and make-up reflecting his famous ‘pale blue Scotsman’ joke.

It will go up in the Gallowgate.

Image copyright BBC Scotland
Image caption Jack Vettriano, Billy Connolly and John Byrne meet up in Kelvingrove Art Gallery

The BBC programme – Billy Connolly: Portrait of a Lifetime – will be shown on BBC One Scotland in early June.

It will show clips of highlights from his career and the comedian talking to the artists about life, work, comedy and inspiration.

Connolly said he was delighted with all three original artworks.

He said: “I’m probably more famous for being a Glaswegian than anything else I’ve actually done.

“It’s been great to have been home to take part in this and a real privilege to be part of these artists’ work.”

Image copyright BBC Scotland
Image caption Rachel Maclean with Billy Connolly and items for his outfit for the digital print

Pauline Law, the programme’s executive producer, said: “The project is a tribute to a man, who is an international star and national treasure but who still remains in touch with his Glaswegian roots.

“He is renowned for his comedy and way with words but we thought it might also be fitting to celebrate his visual and artistic heritage.”

She added: “What comes through loud and clear from the project and the programme is that Billy’s early years in Glasgow fuelled a lot of his comedy, his appreciation of art and his outlook on life.”

When finished, the portraits will be part of Glasgow council’s City Centre Mural Trail.

After the programme’s transmission, the original artworks will be showcased at the People’s Palace, alongside excerpts from the documentary.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here