This is one half of a diptych that originally showed Billy Connolly alongside his banjo. Unfortunately, the half which showed the instrument has remained untraced since 1977. The right-hand panel shows the entertainer Billy Connolly in costume for one of his stage acts.
In 1971 Byrne travelled to America and stayed there for several months. This work shows the influence of that time and depicts an imaginary America, with the red, white and blue of The Star-Spangled Banner reflected in the colours of the marble in the boy’s hand.
Byrne chooses to depict those that he is closest to and that includes his children. This tender study shows his son Xavier asleep – often the only time young children will stay long enough to be drawn or painted.
Robbie Coltrane became well known in the early 1980s with the rise of television's alternative comedy scene. Coltrane was in the original production of 'The Slab Boys' and its sequel 'Cuttin' a Rug', which were written by John Byrne. This portrait shows the actor in the character of Danny McGlone from Byrne's 'Tutti Frutti', for which Coltrane won his first nomination as best actor for a BAFTA award. The apple core he clutches represents the music business in which his character is involved, suggesting it is rotten to the core. He is now best known to an international audience as Hagrid, the kindly giant in the Harry Potter films.
Material: Oil on board on paper
Size: 30.00 x 21.25 cm (framed: 64.00 x 45.50 x 1.50 cm)
Tilda Swinton is an acclaimed actress, famous for her roles in the films of the avant garde director, Derek Jarman, and the title role in an adaptation of Virginia Woolf's 'Orlando' (1993). Her work in theatre and in film has often explored and challenged supposed differences between genders and in 2008 she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film 'Michael Clayton'. This vibrant chalk drawing captures Tilda Swinton's fragile beauty as well as her serious and strong intelligence. She and the artist have two children together.
Material: Pastel on paper
Size: 48.70 x 68.60 cm (framed: 74.00 x 91.00 x 2.00 cm)
Byrne went to school with, and later became a slab boy alongside, Jim Rafferty, Gerry Rafferty’s older brother. Byrne not only designed an album sleeve for Rafferty’s band’s The Humblebums, which also featured Billy Connolly, but also painted one of his guitars.
This self-portrait from about 1988 shows the artist in a tight composition considering himself analytically. Much of Byrne’s work is about this investigation of the self and is the reason why he has painted so many self-portraits.
John Byrne has combined several careers - playwright, theatre designer and artist. In his most famous play, 'The Slab Boys', Byrne drew on his experience as a paint mixer in a Paisley carpet factory. During the 1980s Byrne wrote the cult television series 'Tutti Frutti', followed by 'Your Cheatin' Heart', which used country and western music as a backdrop to a comedy of Glasgow life. Byrne painted this self-portrait after returning from California and the influence of the 'Flower Power' hippy era can be seen in his appearance.
Material: Oil on blockboard
Size: 147.00 x 91.00 cm (framed 150.00 x 94.50 cm)