Argyll artists celebrates opening of 250th solo exhibition

Jolomo - The Light of Glasgow and The Huts of Carbeth is on show at The Glasgow Gallery. Photograph: Robert Perry

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One of Scotland’s most popular and hard-working artists has celebrated the opening of his 250th solo exhibition.

Argyll-based John Lowrie Morrison (known as Jolomo) believes The Light of Glasgow and the Huts of Carbeth, which opened at the Glasgow Gallery in Bath Street on Saturday, is his 250th solo show, “though it might be a couple more than that!”

John, who studied at Glasgow School of Art in the late 1960s and now lives in Tayvallich, Argyll, started exhibiting while he was still at school, and continued to show his paintings while working for 25 years in education.

After leaving teaching to concentrate on his art in 1997, he began to exhibit all over the UK and overseas as his expressionist paintings of Scottish landscapes gained an international following. Celebrity buyers of his work include Sting, Madonna, Chris Patten and Sophia Loren.

Characteristically modest about his achievement, he downplays the milestone by saying ‘I just do what I do. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, I’m just prolific, like many artists. Turner left 10,000 works to the nation when he died, and that didn’t include the many that had already been sold.

‘It’s just what I do. It’s something you have to do if you’re passionate about it. Joan Eardley said that painting is like breathing, it’s something you do continually — that’s why there are so many shows.’

While John is best known for his paintings of landscapes on the west coast of Scotland, the new work in the Glasgow Gallery exhibition celebrates his relationship with Glasgow, where he grew up, and the surrounding countryside.

John says: ‘As a Glasgow boy, I still love Glasgow, and it still inspires me to paint it again and again, especially the West End with its tenements and leafy roads and lanes. I’ve been sketching there since I was at Hyndland Secondary School.’

For the first time, he has painted a group of works which focus on the area around Carbeth in the Campsie Fells where his family spent holidays. Carbeth landowner Patrick Allan Barns-Graham made land available after the First World War for Glasgow families to camp, and many established permanent huts there.

John says: ‘My family had a hut at Carbeth and five or six other members of our family had huts – aunts, uncles, cousins. We went out every weekend, cycled out, or got the Bluebird bus from Buchanan Street bus station.

‘The huts had no electricity or running water – we had a dry Elsanol chemical toilet and water came from a spring nearby. For lights, we used tilley lamps or oil lamps. It was all very old fashioned, but absolutely wonderful. From a ridge near my family’s hut, you could see right down the valley. I was out drawing all the time.

‘When I was in third year at Glasgow School of Art, I won a Landscape Travelling Scholarship from the Royal Academy Schools in London. Most people who won it went off to Italy, but I went to Carbeth and painted the area around Carbeth and Drymen, Duntreath and Dumgoyne hills.

‘I did hundreds of drawings and pastel studies at the time, but could never get them into finished paintings. Now I have, so I have closure – after 50 years!’