Portraits of the past

Painter man: Ian Wilkie with one of his portraits. Pic: Walter Neilson
Painter man: Ian Wilkie with one of his portraits. Pic: Walter Neilson
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A KIRKCALDY man is holding an exhibition of his portraits - 40 years after turning his back on painting.

Ian Wilkie, a caretaker at St Bryce Kirk, is showing his work at the church next week, four decades after he first studied art.

He said: “I went to Art College in Dundee in the early 1970s and I wanted to draw and paint, but when I got there I became more interested in graphic design and gave up the painting.”

Ian (57), who lives in Cloanden Place, became interested again after he was disappointed in a portrait he saw of Fife author Ian Rankin.

“I know Ian as I’ve done some work for him and I read that there was going to be a portrait of him on display in the National Portrait Gallery so I went along to see it,” he said.

“It turned out it was a picture, not a painting, and not a very good one at that. I thought I could do better.”


He began by painting portraits of friends, including Big Country guitarist Bruce Watson and his son, and in just over a year has produced 10 portraits, which have been framed in a rather unique fashion.

Ian said: “A friend of mine in Dunfermline made them for me. He got the wood from the floor of a Glasgow warehouse which was being stripped!

‘‘It’s really nice wood and the paintings look great.”


Over the past few years Ian had kept on hand in the world of art by creating miniature badges modelled on guitars, which were bought by the rich and famous, including Sting, Elton John and George Harrison.

Now, the prospect of displaying his work to the public is one that Ian is looking forward to. “I’m open to criticism but I think people will enjoy it,” he said. “The feedback I’ve had so far has been very positive.”

Ian is now hoping to add to his collection and hold more exhibitions in the future.

“This has been interesting as a first exercise and I’m hoping it might lead to some commissions. An artist is what I’d like to be.”

Ian Wilkie’s portraits will be displayed at St Bryce Kirk on St Brycedale Road from Monday March 11 to Thursday 14 from 6.30 - 9.00 pm. Admission is free.