By Alexander Lawrie
A WORLD-FAMOUS Scots artist is holding a rare exhibition in a tiny, seaside art gallery.
John Bellany CBE, who has work hanging in the London Tate Gallery, has 12 original paintings worth a total of £100,000 for sale at the Harbour Gallery, Port Seton over the next four weeks.
The small gallery is owned by Alistair Hamilton, a lifelong friend of Bellany’s, and the exhibition forms the focal point of the small Three Harbours Arts Festival.
Hamilton, 64, an ex-art teacher, opened his gallery in 2003 primarily to show his own work, but has recently branched out to promote local talent.
Now, the gallery is set for a bumper show with the world-renowned Bellany agreeing to help out his old friend.
Mr Hamilton said: “I first met John when we were at primary school together and we’ve been lifelong friends ever since. We also both attended Edinburgh’s College of Art around the same time, though not in the same year.
“He is very generous in letting such a small gallery sell his work as he has paintings hanging in most of the prestigious galleries in the world.
“I’m quite confident we will sell all twelve paintings as Bellany is one of the most respected Scottish artists of his generation.
“As a youngster it was obvious John was destined for great things because he is a born-natural. It was no surprise to me to see his career flourish like it has.”
Hamilton has recently completed his most prestigious commission by providing a painting as a wedding gift to the new Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.
Although the Princess was born in Australia, her parents and grandparents were both born and raised in Port Seton.
Bellany, originally from the quaint fishing village, was bestowed with the honour of being the first ever Freeman of East Lothian in 2005.
Described as one of the most influential Scottish painters since the war, Bellany was born into a family of fishermen and boat-builders in 1942. His coastal upbringing is instrumental within much of his early work.
His paintings hang in some of the most prestigious art galleries in the world including the National Gallery of Scotland, The Tate Gallery, The V & A and the Modern Art and Metropolitan Museums in New York.
The celebrated Scot’s work has been the subject of numerous awards and major international exhibitions, including being given the honour of holding the first ever one-man show at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 1986.
Bellany, 65, has lectured at various top British art schools, including the Royal College of Art, and was awarded the CBE by the Queen in 1994.
After a bout of ill health in the 1980’s, which resulted in a liver transplant, Bellany relocated to the Tuscan town of Barga, although he still has homes in Edinburgh and Essex.
The artist’s move abroad is widely seen as responsible for the dramatic change in style which is now believed to show a renewed optimism.