QUESTIONS ABOUT GEORGE WYLLIE ANSWERED IN NEW BIOGRAPHY
He was a constructive disturber of the peace, a raw but highly intelligent artist, a man for all good causes. A new book tells the extraordinary story of one of Scotland’s most celebrated and unusual artists, George Wyllie (1921-2012).
Arrivals and Sailings gives an intimate insight into the sculptor’s life, from humble and happy beginnings in the suburbs of Glasgow through turbulent years in Europe and on the Pacific Ocean with the Royal Navy during WWII.
Though Wyllie spent time drawing, sketching and taking photographs at sea as a young man, he was also an engineer, customs officer, husband and father before he became an artist.
Declaring that it was ‘TIME FOR ART’ in the 1960s, he boldly immersed himself in the art world. His insistence on complete creative freedom and his trademark playfully serious style, marked him out as an artist of note.
Wyllie’s lifelong love of performance and his fascination with the absurd led him to create memorable and politically provocative public artworks, such as the life-sized Straw Locomotive, which hung from the Finnieston Crane in Glasgow, and the giant seaworthy Paper Boat, which received international acclaim and was seen by millions on its voyage from Scotland to New York via Dumfries, Liverpool, London, and Antwerp.
Co-written by his eldest daughter, Louise Wyllie, and arts journalist Jan Patience, the book draws on the ‘goldmine’ archive they uncovered at the family home in Gourock. Illustrated throughout with never-before-seen family photographs and interspersed with commentary from the diary George kept as a boy and during his time in the Navy, the book paints a touching picture of this remarkable man and his irrepressible spirit.
Louise Wyllie says, ‘a book about an artist-in-the making is an accurate account of my father’s life. It illustrates the influences that stimulated him into making and sharing accessibile art.’
Jan Patience said: ‘It has been a huge privilege to excavate the life of such an important artist with his elder daughter for company. We have discovered so much about George and about ourselves in the process. This book not only tells the story of George Wyllie, it tells the story of a turbulent century.
‘When George appeared on the contemporary art scene in the 1980s, in his trademark bunnet and boiler suit, he seemed to be a fully-formed artist. This book tells the story of what came before and after.
‘We meet George, the cheeky wee boy, who used to make fake Empire biscuits for his schoolmates, George the young sailor who fell in love with his life-long love, Daphne, in his first days with the Royal Navy, George the sailor who witnesses first hand the devastation of war at Hiroshima, and George the customs officer, who relished both the discipline and the absurdity of his working life.
‘I hope this book becomes text-book reading for all would-be artists.’
The book will be launched at an event at Waterstones, Byres Road, in Glasgow on Thursday, April 28th 2016.
PHOTOS are available: please contact freelance photographer James Williamson 07989 437787 /firstname.lastname@example.org
‘A fascinating insight into the great, quixotic life of George Wyllie, and how he came to leave his indelible mark on the Scottish arts landscape’ – Alan Cumming
‘This delightful book is the most wonderful explanation of who the artist and the man George Ralston Wyllie really was and where he came from. It describes not only the person, but the world he grew up in, which has all but disappeared’ – Muriel Gray
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Jan and Louise live in Scotland and are available for interview.
Contact: Jan Rutherford, 0131 668 4371/07710 474 308; email@example.com
OR Kristian Kerr, 0131 68 4371; firstname.lastname@example.org
Publicity Officer, Birlinn Polygon
West Newington House
10 Newington Road
Edinburgh, EH9 1QS