Sir Billy Connolly says ‘art is my life now’ as he unveils new show

Sir Billy Connolly on his health and his art

Sir Billy Connolly has said his “art is his life now” as he unveiled a new collection of his drawings in Glasgow.

Born on a Rainy Day is the third instalment in the series of artworks and includes 25 new sketches.

Speaking to BBC Scotland’s Jackie Bird, pictured right, Sir Billy said: “I just started to draw not knowing what it was going to be, and it’s turned into this.”

On the subject of his health, he said he sometimes has “shoogly days” but otherwise he is “perfectly okay.”

BBC nes and weather Jackie BirdIn 2013, Sir Billy revealed he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and prostate cancer on the same day, but he has since been given the all-clear from cancer.

Looking over his progression from comedy and acting to art, Sir Billy said that sketching was his life now.

“I get up in the morning and feed the fish. I catch them in the afternoon, and then I draw and I have this idyllic life.

“I don’t miss touring for a minute. I’ve had my fill of it, I’ve done the big and I’ve done the wee and been there and I’ve done it – I’m very proud of that.”

Sir Billy explained that where he now lives in Florida, he leads a mostly “anonymous life”, but that when he is back in Scotland the reaction he enjoys is one of affection.

“It has gone beyond fame into a nicer realm where people treat me as if I’m related to them; like I’m their cousin or something,” he said.

Explaining how he turned to sketching, Sir Billy explained: “I was in Montreal about 10 years ago doing stand-up. It was a miserable day and I went into an art shop. I bought a sketch book and some felt-tip pens – I thought it would stop me watching the telly.

“I had never drawn in my life.

“When I went home I said to Pamela: ‘Look, I know they’re crap, but tell me if you think they’re getting better?’ and she said: ‘Yeah they’re definitely getting better!’.”

Smiling, he added: “I’ve drawn a lot of people with bags over their heads because I couldn’t draw faces.”

And asked in general how he was feeling, Sir Billy said: “I’m okay, I’m having a kind of shoogly day today, the nerves and stuff, I’m kind of shaking a bit.

“It varies from day to day, today is slightly shoogly, but otherwise I’m perfectly okay.”

During the interview. Sir Billy, who was once an apprentice in John Brown’s shipard and lived later in Bonhill and Drymen,  was asked about his views on Scottish independence and responded by saying he did not know how he felt, but he insisted he would not tell anyone what they should believe.

He said: “I speak to my daughter and her friends, younger people, and they seem to be drawn towards independence and I don’t know how I feel about it.

“I’ve never been for independence, so I really don’t know how I feel. I’m not telling anybody to be independent.”

Since his last exhibition of artworks, the comedian has been knighted for services to entertainment and charity, and has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Strathclyde.

Nicola Duffy, gallery manager at Castle Fine Art, said: “Billy Connolly is a true national treasure and we couldn’t feel more privileged to exhibit his work here in Glasgow.

“Billy’s artwork has a unique, humorous charm which has always been hugely popular with his fans, and we can’t wait to welcome them back to the gallery to view the latest collection.”

The exhibition will run between 16 and 30 November at Castle Fine Art on Queen Street.

You can see Billy Connolly’s interview with Jackie Bird on Reporting Scotland via the BBC iPlayer.

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