Billy Connolly “overjoyed” by Glasgow murals

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Author: Almaz OhenePublished: 14 June 2017

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170612_PL_Billy Connolly mural by John Byrne ii

The comedian Billy Connolly has been honoured in three murals unveiled in Glasgow’s city centre to commemorate his upcoming 75th birthday


Billy Connolly has said he is “flabbergasted” and “overjoyed” by three giant murals unveiled in his honour in the city of Glasgow, where he was born.

The 50ft portraits, designed by leading Scottish artists – and recreated by street artists – were commissioned to mark the comedian’s 75th birthday.

Visiting the murals, he said: “I’m truly amazed at the effect these have had on me. They’ve just completely stunned me.

“I thought I’d be all light-hearted on seeing them and jokey – but they’re so big – the effect on me is so profound.”

The murals were created from original works by leading Scottish artists John Byrne, Rachel Maclean and Jack Vettrian. Spray-paint artists Rogue-one and the Art Pistol collective recreated the portraits on walls located around the city as part of its official mural trail.

Billy Connolly mural by Jack Vettriano

Billy Connolly by Jack Vettriano

Billy Connolly mural by John Byrne

Billy Connolly by John Byrne

Billy Connolly mural by Rachel Maclean

Billy Connolly by Rachel Maclean

“You know, people going to that length for me, it’s just taken my breath away,” Connolly added.

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

Connolly opened up about his Parkinson’s in a documentary, ‘Billy Connolly & Me: A Celebration’, shown earlier this year on UK television channel, ITV. He told the programme: “The doctor said to me: ‘You realise this isn’t curable?’ and I thought ‘What a rotten thing to say to somebody’.

“I always thought he should have said: ‘You realise we are yet to find a cure?’, to put a little light at the end of the tunnel. There’s a lot to be said for that.”

Connolly admitted: “It’s a weird thing because it [Parkinson’s] stopped me playing the banjo and it stopped me smoking cigars.

“It seems to creep up on everything I like and take it away from me. It’s like being tested: ‘Cope with that, cope with life without your banjo. Now I’m going to make your hand shake so you can’t tie your fishing flies any more’.”

Both Byrne and Vettriano’s portraits were revealed to Connolly at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, just a mile from where he was brought up in Anderston, Glasgow. Vettriano’s painting is titled ‘Dr Connolly, I presume’, taken from the comedian’s World Tour of Scotland series in 1994 and features a wind-blown Connolly on a storm-lashed coast near John O’Groats, Scotland.

The story of the artworks will be told in the hour-long documentary ‘Billy Connolly: Portrait of a Lifetime’, which will air on BBC One Scotland on 14 June at 9pm – if you’re based in the UK you can also watch anytime on BBC iPlayer. The three original portraits will go on display in Glasgow’s People’s Palace later this month.

Watch the trailer below.

Billy Connolly BBC One Scotland DocumentaryImage credits: Martin Shields

UPDATE: The documentary will also air on BBC Two in England on 5 August at 9pm.


Read more: I’ve got Parkinson’s and cancer: Billy Connolly’s emotional appeal

Billy Connolly’s best Comic Relief moments

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