HE is an artist and writer known for his idiosyncratic art and landmark plays.


Now John Byrne, creator of Tutti Frutti and the Slab Boys, has launched an outspoken attack on the Glasgow School of Art, which he attended between 1958 and 1963.

In the interview, the painter and playwright said that the institution, which is currently recovering from a disastrous fire at its Mackintosh Building last May, was more of a "fun factory" than an art school.

His criticisms appeared to centre on what he believes is a lack of drawing ability at the school.

Byrne said: "Not one of them can draw - they all have delusions of grandeur.

"It's no longer an art school - it's more like a fun factory.

"When I was there, all of the big studios were as Mackintosh had designed them - you were a community and the whole place was a community, but now it's every man for himself.

"It's now all split into rabbit hutches and you have to be on your own with your laptop. It's more like a third-rate night school as far as competence in drawing goes.

"It's like going to a music school and nobody's got an instrument."

Mr Byrne also claimed that some people came to the art school "in the hope that something will rub off on them and they'll win a Turner Prize".

He highlighted the high number of Turner Prize nominees based in Glasgow, saying: "But one was interviewed while the building was burning and they said 'I hadn't realised this was such an important building'. But they shouldn't have been there if they didn't know this was something unique.

"It's a joke. Don't get me started on it. They got compensated £750,000 for the loss of their garbage. I sold one painting for £6 when I left art school.

"The students all want to be rich and famous but do f**k all. Not one of them can draw - they have delusions of grandeur."

Glasgow School of Art and its graduates have been at the centre of a visual art success story which leading German art curator Hans Ulrich Obrist has called the "Glasgow miracle".

Graduate Douglas Gordon became the first Scot to win the Turner Prize in 1996 and this year it was won by Glasgow-based artist and GSA alumni Duncan Campbell, the seventh artist with Scottish links to take the prestigious prize since 1996.

His work was made for the Scotland + Venice show, which was curated by Glasgow's Common Guild gallery and visual arts organisation in 2013.

This year's Scottish show at the Venice Biennale is being staged by Graham Fagen, also a graduate of the GSA.

Byrne added: "I was talking to the students there and I gave them what for - if you want to be rich and famous you have to realise that it's hard graft.

"The people I admire work every day - Francis Bacon, David Hockney, they all work seven days a week and work hard.

"If you're prepared to do that and wait - because you may never get any recognition - that's what you have to do.

"They all think they're going to be huge and get instant payment.

"For the vast majority of them it won't happen."

The Glasgow School of Art declined to comment on Byrne's comments.