We are thrilled to welcome this portrait of Scottish rugby star Doddie Weir by artist Gerard M. Burns on loan to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in time for Scotland's opening Guinness Six Nations 2020 clash against Ireland.
Standing at 6' 6", Weir is one of rugby’s most recognisable personalities. He earned 61 caps for Scotland between 1990 and 2000, played in three World Cups and was selected for the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 1997. Renowned for his extraordinary good humour and tartan suits, in 2005 Weir swapped the scrummage for the studio and remained a familiar face on TV as a commentator for his beloved sport.
In 2016 Weir was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (MND). He set up the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation in 2017, which raises funds to aid research into the causes of MND, investigate potential cures and make grants to individuals suffering from MND to enable them to live as fulfilled a life as possible. In its first two years, the Foundation has invested almost £4million into MND research projects and helped hundreds of families living with the disease.
On loan to the Galleries from the Weir Family, the portrait shows Weir in the Scottish Borders, where he grew up as part of a farming family, with the Eildon Hills behind him. In it, he wears one of his famous suits in the Doddie’5 tartan.
The work has gone on display in the Great Hall of the Gallery, where it will remain throughout the course of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations Championship. Following the conclusion of this year's contest, the portrait will take its place in the Modern Portrait exhibition, alongside works depicting notable Scottish figures such as Susie Wolff and Ewen Bremner, as well as Burns' 2015 portrait of crime writer and playwright Denise Mina.
The portrait of Weir was auctioned in 2019 and raised over £80,000 for the Foundation and was gifted to them with a note saying: ‘To Doddie with love from your rugby friends in Hong Kong, to always remember the Daft Yin’s passion and inspiration in seeking a cure for MND’. The artwork is accompanied by a plaque naming all those who made contributions during the auction of the painting.
Artist Gerard M. Burns graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1983 with a degree in Fine Art. Drawing and painting have been his passion since childhood. He shared this enthusiasm throughout his teaching career, later leaving a successful post as principal of art at St Aloysius College Glasgow to pursue his painting full time. Since 1999 this commitment has resulted in his current standing as one of Scotland’s most respected artists.
The BBC documentary Doddie Weir: One More Try was released in December 2019. It features fellow Scottish rugby legend John Beattie who has followed Doddie and his family over the past two years, gaining a unique insight into the life and mission of the man behind the famous tartan suit.