In pictures: Billy Connolly talks us through his latest art collection
and live on Freeview channel 276
The world has become a brighter place with the release of the Spring 2023 edition of Billy Connolly’s Born on a Rainy Day collection, available exclusively from Castle Fine Art as of yesterday, Thursday March 23.
The six new limited-edition pieces are initially available as framed and unframed portfolios, hand-signed by The Big Yin himself and are presented on 100% cotton deckle-edged paper, float-mounted in black painted and silver foiled pine frames.
Ahead of the official worldwide launch on March 30, Castle Fine Art is offering collectors the opportunity to pre-order the set of six hand-signed limited edition artworks. Until then, the framed set is offered at a special pre-launch price of £6,250, and the unframed boxed set at £4,500.
Billy launched his Born on a Rainy Day collection with Castle Fine Art in 2012 and it’s proved hugely popular with collectors.
The six new pieces are: ‘Birds on a Wire’, ‘Headrest’, ‘Backseat Driver’, ‘Very Humble Goldfish’, ‘Helping Mummy With Twine’ and ‘A Load of Old Bollocks’.
Watch an exclusive video interview with Billy by Castle Fine Art here - and read Billy’s comments on his latest works below.
A Load of Old Bollocks
Billy was inspired by seeing baskets of balls in design showrooms. He says: “They’re all over the place now. Balls with balls in them; they have string ones and wax ones and ones with spots on them. the balls from fishing nets to keep them afloat.
“And glass ones and wooden ones – they keep them in a big dish in design showrooms, and I’ve often wanted one. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted it for, and it reminded me of one of them.
“I couldn’t think of a name for the piece I started to draw, so I thought ‘A Load of Old Bollocks’ would cover it nicely. It’s a lovely statement – a load of old bollocks. You can say it wherever you like, you can say it about Shakespeare – “what a load of old bollocks!” You can say it about songs, poems – “a load of old bollocks!”
“And it just sums things up. It’s a nice thing, that basket of balls; it’ll never have a use. It’s a load of old bollocks! It’ll never be welded, it’ll never be riveted, it’ll never mean anything to anybody. It’s a load of old bollocks, and it pleases me greatly.”
Helping Mummy With Twine
Billy says: “I start a lot of pieces and go back to them afterwards and see what they remind me of, and this reminded me of my aunt asking me to hold the wool while she made it into a ball.
“I would do this for an hour and a half and as a prize she would let me play with her darning mushroom, a plastic mushroom with a battery in it and you darn socks with it. You put the sock on it so the light was shining through. But I just flashed it. I was an easily entertained young man.”
Very Humble Goldfish
Billy says: “He’s a lovely goldfish. I almost drew him as a diving superstar, the way that dolphins are, but in the end when I looked at him, he wasn’t a diver, he was a goldfish with his big lumpy head, and he was a more humble thing than a diver, and I really got to like him.
“His head would make a splash and the whole thing about the diving is that you mustn’t make a splash unless he did his famous folding head trick!
“I hadn’t seen him in a year or two. I saw him again recently and he blew me away! He’s great. I love his colours and I’ve never done anything else in those Partick Thistle colours”.
Billy says: “I’m very fond of him. I didn’t know what it was at first, because it didn’t have legs. It was just a shape. It was like a potato scone, and then I got the idea for the horse and I put a head on it, and the legs, but I couldn’t work out a way to put the legs on his back. So I gave it a rest, I put a little chair in.
“I’ve never tried to imagine him going anywhere. He’s just quite happy where he is. He’s not going anywhere fast, and he knows this. He’s very wise.
“I used to draw lots of blindfolds. I was driven to it and I don’t know why. They don’t mean anything to me, and then sometimes they mean lots of different things. It’s my own little language and I enjoy it and happily other people seem to enjoy it too.
“We had a donkey once, and he just stood. He didn’t go to many places. Donkeys are lovely like that, they just stand, and think. The Glasgow boxer, Peter Keenan, saw himself as a great working class hero, and he was, and he saw me as that as well. He thought I was another kind of him. And he said: ‘I’ve got the very thing for you’. He bred Clydesdale horses and he had a donkey from somewhere. He said: ‘Do you want a donkey?’ and I said: ‘Yeah, I’d love one!’ He gave us a pregnant donkey, and she gave birth to baby Booby. My eldest daughter Cara used to love them.”
Birds on a Wire
Billy says: “I pondered for ages on the title. I didn’t know what it was, but once I finished it, ‘Bird on a Wire’ by Leonard Cohen kept coming back to me with these birds. I tried to get away from it and eventually had to use it. That’s not the same as stealing a song, it’s just borrowing a title. Leonard Cohen was a good man - he wouldn’t mind.
“I went to my doctor in LA once, and about 15 Buddhists all scrambled past me. I got inside and he said: ‘Did you see the Buddhists?’ I said ‘Yeah.’ He said: ‘Did you see Leonard?’. He was one of them. Leonard Cohen was living with the Buddhists.
“The man in the picture is sitting on a seat with his legs dangling over, doing a sort of martial art, and the ball is just a ball. The birds let you know which way is up. If you want to know which way to hang it, the birds are the right way up – my drawings come with instructions!”
Billy says: “This is called ‘Headrest’ because it’s a man on a deckchair – with no headrest. That’s one of the failings of deck chairs, they don’t have headrests – your head goes down the back like his does, which puts you in an ideal position for having your throat cut.
“I love those naughty seaside postcards which often have guys in that position. This guy has had a rotten day at work and has gone ‘OOOOHH!’ as he relaxes in his deckchair. I’m very fond of him, I like that when I draw people, I like them. I like them because they are usually hard-working and innocent people who just know what like it is to work and they know what like it is to rest, and they know what it’s all about. And they’re worthwhile and they’re innocent, and they deserve a great deal more credit than they get.
“There’s a thing about deckchairs that has often frightened me. I remember describing to an audience about my daughter Cara in a deckchair when we were on holiday, and she couldn’t fix it properly. I looked away, and the noise came – crack! It’d fallen down on our fingers, And when I said it to the audience, they all went ‘OOOOOHHH!’ The noise of a thousand people expressing sympathy, it was great!”
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