Billy Connolly quits touring as he unveils latest drawings

Sir Billy Connolly has said he has given up touring and even further one-off stand-up appearances are now in doubt.

Friday, 16th November 2018, 12:48 pm
Updated Friday, 16th November 2018, 12:49 pm

The comedian, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, said he was focusing on TV documentaries and drawing instead, as he opened his latest exhibition on a visit to Glasgow.

His third set of pictures in the Born on a Rainy Day series are on show at Castle Fine Art in Queen Street until 30 November.

Sir Billy said coming projects included a documentary about Scottish naturalist John Muir and national parks.

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Sir Billy was inspired to draw on a wet day on tour in Montreal in 2007.  Picture: John Devlin
Sir Billy was inspired to draw on a wet day on tour in Montreal in 2007. Picture: John Devlin

It will follow a BBC travelogue, Billy Connolly: Made in Scotland, which is due to be screened later this year.

Sir Billy, 75, told The Scotsman: “I won’t be touring again.

“I may do one-off stand-ups, but I don’t even know about that. I will just see how it works out.

“The nature of Parkinson’s disease is it invariably progresses, so I don’t know how it’s going to end up. So we’ll just see how it goes, play it by ear.”

A Glaswegian barista's affectionate tribute to Sir Billy on his takeaway coffee cup. Picture: John Devlin

Sir Billy took up drawing after buying pens and a sketchbook to kill time on a wet day while on tour in Montreal in 2007.

He said: “I had never drawn before that. Daytime on tour can be heavy on your hands.

“It was pissing rain, so I took shelter in the art shop.”

Sir Billy said he had since been humbled by the reaction to the ink drawings.

The ink drawings are Sir Billy's third set in his Born on a Rainy Day series. Picture: John Devlin

He said: “It’s amazing to find people like them and want to buy them.” Asked to describe his style, he said: “I wouldnae dream of it.”

He said the characters he drew just “spring on me”.

Sir Billy said: “I start them from the feet and work up, then they decide what they’re gonna be or who else is going to be in it. It’s a kind of organic process.”

Castle Fine Art’s Glasgow gallery manager Nicola Duffy said: “Billy’s artwork has a unique, humorous charm, which has always been hugely popular with his fans.”

The John Muir documentary will take Sir Billy to the Borders and California where Muir campaigned to preserve the landscape from development.

Sir Billy said: “He had a great habit of getting behind waterfalls. He used to love standing with the water coming down in front of him – I’m going to do that.”

Sir Billy said the BBC series would be about “my relationship with Scotland”.

It will follow his travels, including to Harris, Stornoway and Aberfeldy, where he meets a banjo maker who makes him a fretless banjo “which I love”.

Sir Billy, who now lives in Florida, still buys a newspaper every day – the Key West Citizen – for the crossword.

He also called for the restoration of the fire-ravaged Glasgow School of Art where his daughter Cara studied.

He said: “People are angry about it – how could this be allowed to happen? And they have a right to be angry.

“They should get it as close as they can to the way it was. They should really attempt to make the library again, because that’s what lives in the heart of most of the people who knew it. It’s a golden jewel in the heart of Glasgow.”