Dr. Connolly

 

This is the second of two commemorative Billy Connolly 50ft high murals – based on a series of three portraits by leading Scottish artists to celebrate the Big Yin’s recent 75th birthday – installed by street artist Rogue One, and can be found located on the gable wall in the beer garden of the Glasgow Hootenanny Pub in Dixon Street.

 

It is a reproduction of the Jack Vettriano painting taken from a scene from the comedian’s much-vaunted World Tour of Scotland series for the BBC in 1994, which – for reasons only fathomable to the artist himself – he titled “Dr. Connolly I Presume”, and features a very windswept and somewhat drookit Billy on a storm-lashed coast near John O’Groats at the very tip of mainland Scotland. (And thanks to one blog reader commenting below, there’s also a time-lapse video of this mural being done that you can watch by clicking here.)

 

The portraits, by leading Scottish artists Jack Vettriano, Rachel Maclean and John Byrne, all now hang with pride of place in the People’s Palace, the Big Yin’s favourite Glasgow Museum. The journey of the artists and the comedian, from first sitting to final portrait, was captured recently in a BBC documentary, Billy Connolly: Portrait of a Lifetime.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2/50mm Summicron v5

Ilford FP4+ (@125)

R09 (1+50 – 12min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

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In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London, many protests took place across the country to demonstrate that Britain’s social housing is in crisis – a crisis that was the direct result of the legacy left to us by Maggie Thatcher’s right-to-buy policy back in the early 1980s.

 

And, as witness this photo from Buchanan Gallery steps from a day of action in support of the victims of the Grenfell disaster and against landlords and social housing, Glasgow played a vocal part in its support that was attended by a few dedicated hundred or so, as many ask and wonder whether our country’s postwar housing ideal can possibly be revived.

 

I couldn’t but help think that the numbers though had to have been a far cry from another era in the city when Glasgow was at its most vocal and Socialist best over a lack of social housing and bad landlords, as just over 100 years ago housewife Mary Barbour emerged as a very unlikely local hero as she organised the 1915 Rent Strike that one leading academic believed “could well have been the most successful example of direct action ever undertaken by the Scottish working class.”

 

Today, we need the spirit of Mary Barbour and more direct action because our social housing crisis has been the long-term lasting effects of Thatcher’s right-to-buy policy – and the irony here, of course, is that this policy was probably the most popular ever introduced by a Conservative government. It was wonderful for many who benefited from it – even if some found that property ownership was not the promised land they had expected – but very destructive of local authorities’ ability to respond to housing needs.

 

The selling off of publicly owned housing – and not allowing councils to use those funds to replenish their dwindling housing stock – has directly contributed to the ever more immense bill for housing benefits and created the absurd and wasteful situation whereby local authorities have to pay high rents to house people in homes the councils once owned, but have now been bought by private landlords.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2/50mm Summicron v5

B+W Yellow Filter

Ilford FP4+ (@125)

R09 (1+50 – 12min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

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