Vettriano joins tribute to Billy Connolly

Jack Vettriano's portrait of Billy Connolly entitled 'Dr Connolly, I Presume?' (Jack Vettriano/BBC Scotland)
Jack Vettriano's portrait of Billy Connolly entitled 'Dr Connolly, I Presume?' (Jack Vettriano/BBC Scotland)

A portrait of Billy Connolly by Fife artist Jack Vettriano is to be included in a tribute to the comedian in his home town.

Three representations of Connolly, from original works by top Scottish artists, will go up on walls dotted across Glasgow city centre area.

Commissioned by BBC Scotland in conjunction with Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life, the works – which will all be more than 16m (50ft) high – are depictions from specially created portraits of Billy, who turns 75 this year.

Joining Jack are artists John Byrne and Rachel Maclean, who is currently representing Scotland in the Venice Biennale.

Jack’s painting is from the comedian’s World Tour of Scotland series in 1994, featuring a windblown Billy on a storm-lashed coast near John O’Groats, and is entitled ‘Dr Connolly, I Presume?’ will be showcased in Dixon Street. He says he is a “huge fan” of Connolly’s.

John Byrne has created a portrait of Connolly as he is now, which will go on a wall end in Osborne Street, while a Rachel Maclean digital print of 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, with representations of Glasgow life past and present in the background - will go up in the Gallowgate.

The work is being carried out this month in conjunction with Glasgow City Council’s City Centre Mural Trail project and the originals will go on display in the People’s Palace, and they will be showcased across the country.

A specially commissioned BBC Scotland programme Billy Connolly: Portrait of a Lifetime to be transmitted in June.

Billy 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.”