Billy Connolly fans asked to submit drawings of ‘The Big Yin’ for special tribute

Billy Connolly. Pic: Shutterstock
Billy Connolly. Pic: Shutterstock

A series of fascinating portraits depicting comedy legend Billy Connolly have been unveiled following a public appeal to his fans.

People from across the UK were asked to send in their depictions of the Glaswegian and some of those images can now be revealed.

To mark the Big Yin’s 75th birthday, BBC Scotland last night (Tue) aired a special programme about the legendary comic’s life.

Billy Connolly: Portrait of a Lifetime looks at what happened when three leading Scottish artists - John Byrne, Jack Vettriano and Rachael Maclean - were commissioned to portray Billy in outsize street murals.

The murals are now on public show across the city. And, as the documentary reveals, Connolly was blown away by them.

But originals of the murals are now to go on show at Glasgow’s People’s Palace - alongside the best of the many entries submitted to the challenge by ordinary fans.

The challenge was launched by BBC Arts Digital and the best portraits will also be showcased in an online gallery.

The People’s Palace will display entries on a rolling basis until November 20, just four days before Connolly turns 75.

Among the people who have already taken up the challenge is Mark Gordon.

He says he has twice seen Connolly perform live and adds: “I can really identify with his observations and his take on the world - he is a very funny guy.”

For his striking portrait, Mark used printing and acrylic “because it was quick and I wanted it started and finished today”. It took him just three hours to complete.

Anne Michael submitted the Big Yin in an exceptionally relaxed pose, smoking a cigar, while Neil Roberts went back in time to capture Billy in the 1970s.

Deborah Sherwood, another of the entrants, said: “I have always found his way of looking at the world hilarious, and his determination to carry on making people laugh is inspirational.”

Paul Miller, a lawyer, who rendered Billy in soft pastels on paper, describes himself as a “huge fan of Billy’s”.

He added: “Billy is hilarious and I love his astute observations”.

Duncan Dornan, head of Glasgow Museums, said: “Art is part of what it is to be human and I believe everyone is capable of creating something wonderful when the inspiration is right.

“We look forward to seeing what Glaswegians and people across the country who’ve been inspired by Billy Connolly share as part of the Bin Yin Portrait challenge.

“There is plenty of scope for passion and a sense of fun as well as raw talent.

“We’re delighted to be able to showcase them alongside three striking works of the artist himself.”

There is still time to submit portraits of Billy. Whatever your medium, take a photo and post your portrait on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #BigYinPortrait. Or email your image with some simple details to bbcarts@bbc.co.uk. The closing date for new submissions for the exhibition is November 20.