Gerard M. Burns

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Gerard M. Burns
Born(1961-06-13)13 June 1961
Alma materGlasgow School of Art
Known forpainting
Notable work
  • Labyrinth
  • A New Journey
  • The Rowan
  • N. A. Macfarlane Charitable Trust Award (1997)
  • Not the Turner Prize (2003)

Gerard M. Burns (born 13 June 1961) is a Scottish painter and musician. One of Scotland’s best known portrait artists,[1] Burns has been heralded as one of the country’s leading artists of the human condition, playing a pivotal role in promoting the genre.[2]

Life and art[edit]

Burns was born in Glasgow. He graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 1983 with a degree in Fine Art.

As a student, he conceived the band Valerie & The Week of Wonders with Brian McFie, Greg Kane and Ewan McFie. The group signed to A&M Records & Rondor Publishing in 1984.[3] Burns was the singer, songwriter and guitarist. His subsequent band, Heaven Sent, supported Simple Minds.[4]

He returned to painting in 1990, when he became a Principal of Art at St Aloysius' College, Glasgow. After teaching for a total of 12 years, he became a full-time painter in 1999.[5]

In 2003, Burns was the inaugural receiver of Not The Turner Prize for his figurative oil on canvas, Labyrinth.[6] His painting A New Journey appeared on the First Minister's Christmas Card in 2009 and featured Burns' niece holding a saltire.[4] In 2014, his 14 for 14 exhibition was launched during the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.[7] His Painting ‘The Rowan’ hung behind Alex Salmonds desk in the Scottish Parliament for the duration of his Tenure as First Minister. His portrait of Alex Salmond was unveiled in the Scottish Portrait gallery in Dec 2015.[8]

In April 2015, on the occasion of Scotland Week, he opened the exhibition A Brush with Inspiration in New York, featuring 16 paintings of notable Scots, from Ewan McGregor to Nicola Sturgeon.[2] After the high-profile SoHo gallery, he decided to show his works to the Scots in a shopping center in Easterhouse, which he saw as "a metaphor... for areas of social deprivation and the thought that there shouldn’t be a postcode lottery when it comes to access to the arts."[9] He donated the paintings to raise money for a new hospice in Glasgow.[10][11]

Burns usually takes photographs of his subjects before working on their portraits. The painter notes, however, that "each of the various pictorial elements also contains a deeper symbolic meaning... My goal is realism, but it’s by increasingly abstract means that realism is attained.".[12]

Charity work[edit]

Burns has donated much of the proceeds from his works for charity.[13] His painting Road to Emmaus raised awareness of the work of Emmaus, a charity helping homeless people.[14] His portrait of Alex Salmond raised 50,000 pounds for CLIC Sargent, a charity supporting children and young people with cancer and their families.[15] The portrait of Billy Connolly raised 40,000 pounds for the National Trust for Scotland.[16] Burns launched a special collection of prints to raise money for Mary's Meals, a charity setting up school feeding projects in some of the world's poorest communities.[17]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 2014: 14 for 14, Glasgow
  • 2014: Fairhill Winter Exhibition, Glasgow
  • 2015: A Brush with Inspiration, New York


Burns' works are kept in several private and public collections.[18]

Corporate and public collections:

  • The Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Standard Charter Bank
  • Hunterian Gallery, Glasgow
  • Scottish Parliament (First Ministers Office)
  • Accenture, Dublin
  • Jesuits (SJ) millennium commission, London

Private owners of his works include:


  • 1997: RGI.\ Winner "N. A. Macfarlane Charitable Trust Award"
  • 2003: Daily Mail "Not the Turner" competition, first prize


  1. ^ "Enjoy Gerard Burns' exhibition during Scotland Week". 27 March 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b Alasdair Lane (7 April 2015). "Profile: Gerard M Burns". The National. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Valerie & The Week of Wonders - "Ships On The Clyde" 1984". YouTube. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b Marisa Duffy (26 December 2011). "The only way I could stay sane was to begin to be a full-time artist". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  5. ^ Vivienne Nicoll (9 April 2015). "Billy Connolly catches up with man behind picture that's wowing New York". Evening Times. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  6. ^ Jonathan Trew (8 June 2003). "Culture: If you need to explain, it doesn't work". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Elaine is put in the picture". Motherwell Times. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Interview with Gerard M Burns ' A Brush with Inspiration'". The New York Optimist. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  9. ^ Paul English (27 November 2015). "Scots painter Gerard Burns swaps super-cool New York galleries for a shopping centre in Easterhouse". Daily Record. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  10. ^ Brian Beacom (12 April 2015). "Actor Laura Fraser on joining Connolly and Sturgeon in New York's portrait gallery of inspirational Scots". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  11. ^ Ken Smith (19 May 2015). "At Large: Why the wee Glasgow lassie made an impact with the London business world". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  12. ^ "The Artwork of Gerard M Burns". Gerard M Burns. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  13. ^ "'Her death is part of me': the pain behind an artist's gift". Herald Scotland. 19 November 2009. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  14. ^ "At your service: How art plays a crucial, social function". Scottish Catholic Observer. 28 September 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  15. ^ "Alex Salmond reveals portrait 'raised money for charity'". The Scotsman. 26 November 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  16. ^ Paul English (15 April 2015). "Tartan week: Gerard Burns is toast of New York but artist wants his paintings 'to be hung up in Easterhouse'". Daily Record. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  17. ^ "What a day and what a year for Mary's Meals". Scottish Catholic Observer. 27 November 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  18. ^ "CV". Gerard M Burns. Retrieved 14 January 2016.

External links[edit]