With a BAFTA award and knighthood under his belt, Billy is a creative force to be reckoned with. The comedian, musician, presenter and actor added a new string to his bow in 2012: fine art.
After working as a welder in Glaswegian shipyards in the 1960s, Billy became a folk singer and comedian. He has also appeared in films like Indecent Proposal (1993), Mrs. Brown (1997) and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004).
It was on a rainy day in 2007 that Billy Connolly first put pen to paper. Taking refuge from the grey drizzle of Montreal, Canada, he entered an art shop with a twinkling curiosity and left with an armful of supplies and the urge to create. Back in his hotel room, his felt-tips and sketchbook formed a portal for his imagination, and over the next five years his drawings evolved into his debut fine art collection, Born On A Rainy Day.
Billy's art has been likened to the cave paintings of the Aurignacian period (40,000-25,000 BC), which are characterised by their linear, one-dimensional approach. Charmingly simplistic, his faceless figures possess an extraordinary self-awareness and humanity. Devoid of emotion or expression, their anonymity opens them up to individual interpretation, creating a unique bond with the viewer.
An admirer of artists like René Magritte and David Hockney, Billy has made an impact on the art world beyond his own creations. In June 2017, the CBE recipient was immortalised in three 50ft murals in his hometown of Glasgow to celebrate his 75th birthday, with his infamous ‘banana boots’ later displayed at the People’s Palace. In April 2020, following the headline-grabbing release of his fifth collection, he worked with an Edinburgh-based chocolatier to design a chocolate bar wrapper to raise funds for the NHS during COVID-19.
Find out more about Billy's upcoming autumn 2020 release here.
Just like his idiosyncratic, no-holds-barred comedy, each of Billy's artworks reflects a refreshing honesty. Black-and-white lines, Escher-esque surrealism and an increased use of colour are underpinned by a sense of liberation and a keen application of observational humour. His process mirrors that of the Surrealist Automatism movement, whereby the artist allows their hand to move randomly across the paper or canvas without a specific intent.
We went behind the scenes with Billy to ask him your top five questions! Watch our playlist below.
Showcasing the very best of our artworks, along with behind-the-scenes updates and interviews, the new issue of our Fine Art Collector magazine is a must-read!
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