ACCLAIMED Glasgow-born artist Gerard M Burns will unveil his latest exhibition in New York tomorrow, helping launch New York’s Scotland Week with a set of portraits celebrating Scottish talent.

The new exhibition will feature 16 paintings, each depicting a notable Scot from the world of film, music, politics and sport.

From the likes of Hollywood star Ewan McGregor to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, each of the subjects – all handpicked by Burns – are inspirational characters.


BORN in 1961, he won a place at Glasgow School of Art in 1979. Burns graduated with a degree in Fine Art four years later – curiously, however, it was upon a music career that his heart was set.

It would be several years before he returned in earnest to the canvas, re-entering the painting world as a teacher.

Sharing his passion for the craft with younger generations, Burns forged a successful academic career, achieving the post of Principal of Art at Glasgow’s St Aloysius College in 1990.

In 1999, Burns made the decision to commit himself to the life of a professional artist.


HERALDED as one of Scotland’s leading artists of the human condition, Burns has played a pivotal role in promoting the genre.

Falling within the category of figurative art, his portraits move beyond that of inert, photographic subject recreations. Rather, Burns paints a more emotional and engaging image, imbued with the sitter’s own story in an effort to capture the elusive human angle.

Employing a number of visual devices, Burns creates a sense of motion and energy in his work.

His subjects will, for instance, often turn their gaze away from the viewer, creating a contemplative quality suggestive of a deeper story.

Using relatives, friends and neighbours as models, Burns likes to paint what he knows. This, perhaps, is how he manages to capture what has been described as an almost domestic intimacy.

According to the artist himself, his goal is “realism, but it’s by increasingly abstract means that realism is attained”.


BURNS’S ever-growing client base spans A-list celebrities, politicians, business tycoons and royalty.

As part of his 14 For 14 exhibition, a charity event which ran in Glasgow last year, Burns painted a host of Scottish glitterati.

Ewan McGregor – perhaps the most notable of the bunch – numbers among the artist’s close friends.

Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross and comedian Karen Dunbar also featured in the exhibition – the latter of whom, Burns has remarked, made him laugh so much he feared he would have a heart attack.

Foraying into the world of politics, both the current First Minister and her immediate predecessor have been captured by Burns’s brush.

A long-time fan of the artist, Alex Salmond was happy to pose for 14 For 14. The two had had dealings some years before when Burns was commissioned to paint the then First Minister’s official Christmas card.

The finished product, entitled A New Journey, depicted a young girl carrying a saltire through a wintry landscape. While proceeds from the sale of the canvas went to charity, controversy followed as opponents accused Salmond of politicising Christmas.

Burns’s most recent portrait – showing current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – was unveiled last month. Painted at her official Bute House residence, the image will feature alongside the 15 others in New York this week – something Sturgeon recognises as “a big honour”.


TITLED Brush With Inspiration, the Scotland Week exhibition is a follow-up to the success of 14 For 14, taking several of the same portraits to an American audience.

The subjects, Burns explains, are a “combination of talented Scots with an American profile, Scots that have made it in New York and Scots’ talent that we just want to celebrate”.

Sharing wall space with the world-famous figures will be three New Yorkers – Donna Nairi, a Scottish financier; businesswoman Lynda Logan and Alan Linn, founder of the private Norwood social club – who represent those emigrant Scots who have found success in a new country.

With more than 50 million people worldwide claiming Scottish ancestry – the majority of whom reside in North America – Scotland Week, now in its seventh year, offers individuals the opportunity to reconnect with their heritage.

A Brush With Inspiration runs until April 17 at Glasgow Caledonian University’s New York campus.