To celebrate the 30th anniversary of his historic second BDO World Darts Championship title win, this caricature of Jocky Wilson (1950-2012) was displayed in early 2019 as the 'Topical Sitter' at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.
The caricature is by Scottish artist Derek Gray, a founding member of the Scottish Cartoon Art Studio (SCAS) – an organisation that is celebrating an anniversary of its own this year, having been established in 1999.
The image entered the Scottish collection after being included the first SCAS ‘Fizzers’ exhibition of caricatures at the Portrait Gallery in 2006. A book was published in support of the exhibition featuring over 100 illustrations of Scotland’s most recognisable characters from roughly the past 100 years, and several more ‘Fizzers’ exhibitions have run in other venues since.
Jocky, who became Scotland’s first darts world champion in 1982, did not sit for the creation of his caricature. Here, Gray explains how he overcame this to capture so convincingly the character of one of Scotland’s most unlikely sporting heroes.
“The legendary Jocky Wilson loomed large in my early years. I was a fan of watching the darts as a child, so I jumped at the chance to draw this caricature of him for the original Fizzers exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2006.
“This caricature of Jocky actually came together very easily and that alone, from my perspective, is enough to make it stand out from others that I’ve drawn.
“Looking through my sketchbooks from the time there are usually a number of sketches for each person, sometimes a dozen or more, as I work away at getting the likeness right.
"But there is just a single drawing of Jocky and this is pretty much how it appears in the finished piece with only some minor tweaks.
“Why choose to draw Jocky Wilson in the first place? Apart from being such a well-known and successful (though unlikely-looking) sportsman he has a great face to draw and that really is the main consideration when approaching a caricature.
“What I try to do is focus on simplifying the face into the two or three most important elements, those features that makes a particular face what it is. In Jocky’s case it is the overall shape of the head, obviously rotund, and the small eyes almost buried in the flesh. But then there is that memorable smile, wide but without many teeth showing. And if these two or three constituents can be successfully captured then fitting the other less significant elements in and around these features is just window dressing.
“With other characters the choice of these essential features may differ, it could be the hair, the teeth, or the nose; every face is different and the caricaturist should approach each face differently. Jocky seemed a larger than life character, and so when it came to arranging the composition it made visual sense to have him filling the frame and, indeed, being unable to fit inside the dimensions of the artboard.
“The remit of the original Fizzers exhibition was to produce “pure” caricature; so no editorialising, no satire, no gags or props, the humour coming only from observation and exaggeration.
"But with someone as vital and ebullient as Jocky Wilson plenty of character inevitably makes its way into the picture and you can’t help but warm to the man.”