Resident artist starts mammoth public art project

Iain Campbell at work
Resident artist Iain Campbell at work in St George's Tron church in Glasgow.

Standing working at an easel in the corner of Glasgow’s St George’s Tron church, resident artist Iain Campbell is embarking on a mammoth undertaking he estimates will take the next three years to complete.

Iain has been commissioned to paint 24 scenes from the gospel of Luke, with one painting representing each chapter. All Iain’s creative work will take place in public in the Buchanan Street church, which is now has a busy café bringing people inside throughout the day. The ambitious commission follows last year’s successful pilot project where Iain painted his celebrated interpretation of ‘Our Last Supper’ featuring homeless men he met through the Glasgow City Mission.

The first painting in Iain’s series is a contemporary interpretation of the Annunciation, featuring the angel Gabriel and Mary. “Like ‘Our Last Supper’ I wanted this painting to be rooted in Glasgow,” says Iain, ”so I’ve chosen the Necropolis by Glasgow Cathedral as a setting which represents the city’s past. My model for Mary is a Christian woman from Iran who is here with her husband seeking asylum in our country. I met them through a Glasgow City Mission group called the ‘New Glaswegians’. I think the combination helps the painting represent the past and future of the city.”

By choosing such a busy space as his studio, Iain is giving the public a unique opportunity to watch an artist at work and ask him about what he is doing. “People come in to the café, and they are curious about what I am doing. They come over and often talk about their own experiences of church and faith. Others who have no faith themselves are interested to ask me about mine. I’ve never had so many opportunities in my life to talk about my faith.”

The series of paintings is being funded by the Church of Scotland’s Go For It Fund, Spill the Beans, and the Scottish Bible Society, who intend to publish a book of the images accompanying the gospel text. “I’m normally working in the church on Thursdays and Fridays, and people can stop by anytime and see how the project is developing. We are also making a short film about each painting, and they will all be exhibited in St George’s Tron when the series is finished.”

Iain is featured talking about his latest painting in a video for our online Advent Calendar. It follows the attention received by his ‘Our Last Supper’ painting which caught the public imagination when it was unveiled to the media last December. Prints of ‘Our Last Supper’ are now available for sale at St George’s Tron with proceeds going to the City Mission.

Hear Iain and Rev Dr Richard Frazer interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland by Ricky Ross at 1 hour and 8 minutes into the programme, available until mid-January 2017.