John Byrne

Don’t Fence Me In

Exhibition starts 2017-12-02

Ends on 2017-12-22


One of the most respected playwrights of his generation (The Slab Boys 1978, Tutti Frutti 1987), John Byrne is at the same time an outstanding, Scottish artist and thea-tre set designer.

In 1963, having graduated from Glasgow School of Art lauded with the praises and recommendations of his instructors, John found his artistic path fraught with the many obstacles familiar to every art graduate.

John’s mother averred that he had started drawing “in his pram”. This inherent skill underlies all his work and provides a foundation for evocative imagery deriving from influences and experiences as far back as childhood, perhaps even in that same pram. His facility with language was clear from an early age also and he is very much a story teller both visually and literally, lending his paintings a beguiling air of tales awaiting the telling.

John grew up in Paisley where the relative poverty and austerity of his surroundings were at odds with the lavish and colourful richness he saw in the Catholic church. The ceremony, the ornate décor and imagery of saints were a stimulating contrast to the oppressive and sometimes threatening surroundings of a council housing scheme and would be a recurring motif in his creative life. Similarly, his experiences working as a “Slab Boy”, grinding and mixing paint for the carpet manufacturer A.F. Stoddard & Company, while perhaps less than enjoyable at the time, in later life proved a rich source of inspiration.

Refusing to be fenced in, John turned down the opportunity of a life’s work design-ing carpets and concentrated then on painting. Frustrated by the lack of interest displayed by galleries, John created for himself an “Alter Ego” by the name of Patrick and thereby took advantage of a vogue for naïve paintings current in London in the ‘60’s, the fictional “Patrick” being a one-eyed, Nairn pensioner with a talent for painting in an untutored style. John owned up to the subterfuge before the opening and “Patrick’s” exhibition at the renowned Portal Gallery in Grafton Street in London was a sell-out, despite the sophistication of the paintings and the obvious training and talent of the real artist!

Around this time, John discovered another outlet for his creativity in the designing of album covers, initially through his friendship with Gerry Rafferty, the song writer and also a Paisley native. Rafferty had teamed up with Billy Connolly to form The Humblebums in 1969 and John designed their first album cover. He subsequently designed covers for Rafferty’s solo albums, for Stealer’s Wheel and for Donovan.

One of John’s best known works, The American Boy, was painted in 1969 and since then he has continued to follow his own artistic path, painting on objects as diverse as guitars and desks, producing insightful, revealing portraits of public figures and intriguing, innovative works on a multiplicity of subjects. Cole Porter’s cowboy song of 1935, Don’t Fence Me In”, fits well with the spirit of adventure that informs all of John Byrne’s work, with its often light-hearted, sometimes pessimistic outlook and defiance of convention.

Classically trained, delightfully irreverent and clever, this is a Scottish artist very much in and of the world who will continue to innovate and to delight us with his story telling on canvas. It is a real privilege and pleasure to welcome him back to his third exhibition with The Rendezvous Gallery

ARTIST WORKS (click on the image to enlarge)

Hugh Morton

Window Exhibition of Paintings

Exhibition starts 2017-12-02

Ends on 2017-12-22


My work describes human drama expressed though abbreviated forms and arranged compositions. The choice of subject is drawn from personal experience and decided though the visual potential of an idea to form into a painting. The varied subject matter of my work is consistent in the way it depicts an enduring interest in one, often small, motif or narrative; lying in bed in summer; standing and waiting in the rain; the formal quality of a map or a tarpaulin. My interest in these subjects comes from my belief that original and compelling narratives may be drawn from parts of everyday existence we often do not notice.