John Byrne: Sitting Ducks

John Byrne exhibition posterScottish National Portrait Gallery

I recently mentioned visiting the beautiful Portrait Gallery in my post about my love for Scotland. Whilst visiting the Gallery I saw an attractive exhibition dedicated to the work of Scottish artist John Byrne.

Byrne was born in Paisley and studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1958 to 1963. He has worked as an artist, playwright and theatre designer. Byrne has always tried to avoid being associated with particular styles or movements in art. I was interested in the exhibition because the artist guided the selection of works on display, with many of the portraits being of close friends and family.

John Byrne exhibition, Scottish National Portrait Gallery

In this video, Byrne gives an introduction to the exhibition and guides the viewer around the space. He discusses some of the most captivating works, including those of his children and the beautiful Tilda Swinton.

I’ve always know John Byrne as the artist with the best moustache in Scotland! The exhibition contains a number of self-portraits (including the painting below) which show the evolution of his famous facial hair! I remember this artwork fondly, as previously hung in the Gallery cafe. I’ve spent many a time gazing at it while enjoying a coffee and a lovely homemade scone. That jacket is truly something to behold!

Self Portrait by John Byrne, 1971-1973. National Galleries Scotland

(source: National Galleries Scotland)

The exhibition also includes portraits of well-known faces, including comedian Billy Connolly wearing his famous banana boots!

Billy Connolly by John Byrne, National Galleries Scotland.

(source: National Galleries Scotland)

As well as the self-portraits, the other artworks which captured my imagination were the quickly executed chalks of his children. Even though the exhibition only covers two rooms, I felt it was successful in showcasing the artist’s various styles. It was also a truly Scottish exhibition. Perfect for my return visit! If you want to know more about the work of John Byrne, many of his artworks can be found on the Your Paintings website, as well as the National Galleries Scotland online collections.

Bye for now…

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John Byrne | Sitting Ducks

National Portrait Gallery of Scotland

14 June – 19 October 2014

Admission free



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