Bill Birrell

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Bill Birrell (born 1945 in Glasgow, United Kingdom) is a British artist.

It was an age of austerity and optimism. The Second World War had finished at last in August 1945. Bill's father William was a fireman and his mother had been a nurse during the hostilities. He spent the first six years of his life living in a flat in Springburn Fire Station, as was very common in those days. Later the family moved to the Knightswood area where he went to school. His school years were fairly uneventful. Although when he was just twelve his mother Agnes was diagnosed with MS. It was his mother that instilled in him his love of Art, Music, and History. He was so sorry to watch her deteriorate over the years. His father William introduced him to the beauty and grandeur of the Scottish Highlands on long driving holidays. Ronald his older brother by eight years, started to realise that Bill had some drawing ability. Ronald had finished his studies at Glasgow School of Art in 1961. So Ronald and Agnes encouraged Bill to try for Art School. Bill was accepted into Glasgow School of Art[1] in 1964 to 1966 and from 1968 to 1970. He has lived and worked in Toronto, Canada and in Glasgow, U.K. It was in Toronto 1967 where he met Elizabeth Kuhn who would later become his wife. He said,'She was the best and the most beautiful thing that had ever happened to him'. They were together for 36 years. She died of Cancer in 2003. While he was a student at Glasgow, he started to develop his unique style. His older brother Ronald Birrell, who was also an artist, was a major influence on his life during this time. His first paintings were industrial landscapes[2] and figure compositions. Birrell's work is difficult to categorize, not simply realistic, figurative, symbolist, surrealist, historical or combinations of these. It often contains figures in rooms or landscapes, usually female, creating a potent atmosphere of disquiet or sometimes harmony. It is the creation of this atmosphere that is important to him.[3] While he was a student at the GSA he began to show paintings at the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Art. In 1970 he met Cyril Gerber, a Glasgow art dealer. Birrell would later exhibit his drawings, paintings, and constructions at Cyril Gerber's Compass Gallery, including a solo show there in 1989.[4] He has also shown his work at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. And later a solo exhibition at Caro Skyrme's Le Mur Vivant Gallery in London, 1999, as well as taking part in group exhibitions at the Lamont Gallery in London, UK, and at London based Corporart.[3] He has also exhibited his work in Toronto, Bath, Geneva, and Copenhagen. James Morrison, with Scottish Television created a short film about his work in 1989 which stressed his uniqueness and separation from the Scottish art establishment.[5] Birrell works mostly in oil paint and ink, and often works out his ideas on paper before transferring them to canvas or board. He once said, 'I have always drawn and painted in a fairly realist way. It seems natural and normal for me to do this. I see the world with a realist vision and I do not feel the need to change this, or rebel against it'. When you look at and study his work I feel that there is an certain integrity in his vision. He has something to say and an unique way of saying it. His main influences were his brother Ronald Birrell and early Renaissance painters such as Piero Della Francesca, Piero Di Cosimo, and also Andrew Wyeth, and Giorgio Di Chirico.


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