John Byrne to sell pocket-money portraits

John Byrne with the six works the artist will sell to young people at well below the market rate. Picture: Ian Georgeson
John Byrne with the six works the artist will sell to young people at well below the market rate. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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He has designed record covers for bands as big as The Beatles, but now one of Scotland’s leading artists has agreed to sell some of his work cut-price as part of an experiment to help young people develop an interest in art.

John Byrne has revealed he will even allow students and school pupils to buy the work in interest-free instalments.

John Byrne with his self-portrait. Picture: Ian Georgeson

John Byrne with his self-portrait. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The artist, who wrote the award-winning TV series Tutti Frutti, will sell six of the paintings he has created for a solo show in Aberdeen to young people.

The Paisley-born artist, who said he was unable to afford to afford any works when he was studying at Glasgow School of Art, is charging between £85 and £200 for the small paintings.

The 73-year-old, who lives in Edinburgh, has described the move as an experiment which he has pledged to repeat if it proves successful – and admits he is relying on potential buyers to be genuine art enthusiasts.

He said he was determined to do his bit to make art more affordable to young people, saying he was unable to buy “even the tiniest wee scribble” when he was a student, and hoped other successful artists would be inspired to follow suit.

The paintings, which include two-self-portraits, will be on sale at the Rendezvous Gallery in Aberdeen alongside watercolours with price tags of up to £30,000. Some 40 new works will be on display from 19 October.

Byrne told The Scotsman: “When I was a young man it never entered my head to ask the price of a painting in a gallery for the simple reason that I knew that even the tiniest wee scribble was beyond my reach.

“There must be thousands of youngsters who would love to buy a piece of work from a show so I thought to myself, why not give it a go and add another six small pieces to the exhibition?

“The idea only came to me recently. I just thought that I’m making enough money from my painting to do something like this and maybe set a bit of an example.

“This is obviously aimed at young people who have a real interest in art – it’s a great feeling to actually buy your first piece of work, I wish I’d had the chance when I was younger. The idea is people pay what they can afford. But if I catch someone sending their child into the gallery I won’t be happy.”

Gallery owner Duane Mead has agreed to waive any commission on the six pieces to help keep their price down.

He said: “I was extremely excited when John told me about his new initiative and thrilled it will come to fruition in my gallery, where I will certainly encourage other artists to follow this route.

“Strangely, I feel I am reliving my youth. As a young student in the United States, I bought a Samuel Palmer etching under these exact circumstances. It has travelled the world with me to and is now a cherished possession in my home in Aberdeen.”