Published 14 June 2013
One of Scotland’s most successful and best loved artists, John Lowrie Morrison – affectionately known as Jolomo – returns to his roots in Clydebank this week with a major exhibition of his career’s work.
'A Passion for Colour: Jolomo - the Retrospective' is on display in the newly refurbished Clydebank Town Hall Museum and Gallery, and will be opened by Scotland's Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop. The free exhibition will run until September and brings together his best works from more than 40 years.
John is one of Scotland's most popular artists, and the exhibition is expected to draw visitors from throughout Britain to see his much-loved landscape paintings, and a range of other work which has rarely been on display before.
John's expressionist paintings continue to sell well, despite the economic downturn, and he has an annual turnover reputed to be around £2 million. Favoured among the rich and famous, proud owners include Madonna, Sting and Rick Stein.
It was John's affection for Clydebank, where he worked as an Art Adviser to the old Strathclyde Regional Council, that prompted him to accept West Dunbartonshire Council's invitation to hold his Retrospective in the town. The Clydebank Town Hall Museum and Gallery provides the perfect setting as it has recently undergone a £3.65 million renovation to transform it into one of Scotland's most stylish public buildings.
John Lowrie Morrison said: "I felt extremely honoured when I received the invitation from West Dunbartonshire Council to hold my Retrospective of my work in the newly refurbished Clydebank Museum & Art Gallery. Equally, I felt honoured and humbled at the concept of a Retrospective during my lifetime; not something that often happens to an artist.
"I really do hope that visitors to the Retrospective will find the exhibition interesting and I think that some people might be surprised by the wide range of genres and media used in some of my work which is exhibited chronologically stretching from when I was four right up to date. There are, of course, my iconic landscapes but also on view is figurative, religious, still life, textile design, sketching and drawing work.
"Personally, I'm greatly excited about taking the time with my wife and family to view the exhibition which brings together so much of my life as an artist."
A Passion for Colour charts the evolution of John's signature style, from his days as an award-winning student at Glasgow School of Art - where he considered a career as a fashion and textiles designer - to the present day. It is also a chance to see rarely exhibited portraits, abstract works and drawings, a unseen side to this much-loved artist.
As well as landscapes of places such as Grogport, an Argyll hamlet that John has painted again and again over the years, alongside newer works like The Spark, the Duke and the Vic (2008). There will also be the chance to see early and less familiar works including the portraits of Archie the Jura, a retired gamekeeper whom John befriended in Argyll in the 1970s. He lived in a remote croft with stone floors, walls lined with newspapers and a truckle bed.
Scotland's Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "I'm very pleased to have been asked to open this Retrospective. John Lowrie Morrison's vibrant and colourful landscapes capture the essence of Scotland's natural beauty - it's no wonder they're loved the world over.
"To be given the opportunity to also view some of his less-famous work is a privilege. I expect that the many visitors who come to Clydebank to see for themselves leave inspired by his diversity, his creative talent and an appreciation of why Jolomo is one of Scotland's best loved artists."
Councillor Michelle Stewart, Convener of the Council's Educational Services Committee, said: "The John Lowrie Morrison exhibition is nothing short of a coup for West Dunbartonshire and I'm sure will put Clydebank firmly on the Scottish arts map. We look forward to welcoming visitors from all over Scotland and beyond to this historic town and historic building of ours.
She added: "I also think it is great that our newly-refurbished Clydebank Town Hall Museum and Gallery will have the chance to shine and this exhibition will really show off this first-class facility that we have here in West Dunbartonshire."
'A Passion for Colour: Jolomo - the Retrospective' runs from Saturday (15 June) to Saturday, 21 September (10am-4.30pm).
About John Lowrie Morrison
John Lowrie Morrison was born in 1948 in Maryhill, Glasgow, and studied at Glasgow School of Art. For more than 25 years he pursued a successful career in art education from his base in Argyll, rising to Principal Teacher of Art at Lochgilphead High School and Art Adviser to Strathclyde Region. Giving up his teaching career to paint full time in 1997, Jolomo has become a highly successful artist, best known for his paintings of the West of Scotland, filled with colour and passion. John has successfully exhibited his work in solo and mixed exhibitions at numerous galleries in Scotland, England, Europe, China and the USA.
In 2005 John established The Jolomo Foundation, a charitable body aimed at promoting and encouraging the painting of the Scottish landscape. The Jolomo Awards for Scottish landscape painting were launched in 2006 and have been awarded in 2007, 2009 and 2011. With total prize money of £35,000, they are the largest art Awards in Scotland and have become an important part of the Scottish art scene. The Jolomo Bank of Scotland Awards 2013 will be presented at a Gala Dinner at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum on Wednesday 19th June, the week after the Retrospective opens.
In April 2012, and in conjunction with the Scottish Government, John launched the Jolomo Schools Painting Award for landscape painting. This painting competition is aimed at senior pupils and winner will be announced in June 2013.
In November 2008 John was presented with an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the West of Scotland and in November 2009 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Abertay University in Dundee for "a significant contribution to Scottish culture". In the 2011 New Year's Honours List, John received an OBE for services to art and to charity in Scotland.