A PORTRAIT of Billy Connolly by Ayrshire artist Gordon Irving has taken the honours in an art competition which pays homage to the stars who have stayed in one of Glasgow's most iconic buildings.

The 66-year-old from Prestwick, who once met the Scottish icon in Ayr man years ago when he played the folk clubs, said he was "very humbled" by the Grand Central Portrait Competition award "because the quality of work is really outstanding".

Mr Irving scooped the first prize of £1000 for the Big Yin portrait that was created using fine point pen and watercolours on pastelmat card.

At a ceremony at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow, he joked: "I am almost speechless, but not quite."

READ MORE: Artists invited to enter new Grand Central Hotel competition

He added: "I would applaud every one of the artists who submitted tonight, but I also I want to say that I can't say what this means to me. Absolutely amazing, so thank you so much."

Later he explained: "I have always followed him and admired Billy Connolly. But the main thing that attracted me to him was his character, the way he observes, and so I was trying to capture that in his eyes.

"There is a wee scary bit to Billy Connolly, a bit edgy."

Taking the second prize of £500, was a 20-year-old first time exhibitor and competition entrant who was encouraged to take part by his grandmother.

Luke Wilson, 20, from Barrhead who studies graphic design at Glasgow Clyde College, and has taken to art as a hobby, says his success with a coloured pencil drawing of Nat King Cole could give him the confidence and encouragement to show off more of his work.

He said: "It was my gran who encouraged me to take part and told me about it. This might give me the confidence to put my work out there. "

The Herald:

The competition, which was first announced at the beginning of June this year, called on professional and amateur artists alike to produce portraits of some of the hotel’s famous guests.

The competition, in conjunction with The Herald, included portrait entries of Hollywood stars Jean Simmons, Cary Grant and Charlie Chaplin, as well as more modern iterations of rock star Mick Jagger and former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill.

Over 60 entries were presented to judges Paul Bray, Grand Central Hotel’s general manager; Donald Martin, editor-in-chief of Newsquest Scotland and editor of The Herald, and art critic and writer Jan Patience.

READ MORE:  Hotel behind art competition urges artists to enter before deadline

The entries were then shortlisted and displayed at a gallery event last night in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, where the winner was unveiled to the evening’s guests.

Mr Martin said: "We are delighted to support this in this great hotel. What a tough job we faced. And without Jan's help we might have struggled because they were all of such great standard. Well done to you all."

Ms Patience added: "Why the Billy Connolly portrait stood out was because it is a great likeness, and it captures the spirit of him with that gaze. He is old in this picture but there is something of his youth in it. This is someone who knows how to handle paint, how to get a likeness."

The Herald:

Mr Bray said all portraits will have pride of place in the most photographed part of the hotel, the grand staircase and are due to go up in March.

Mr Bray commented: “We are over the moon with the response the hotel’s art competition has had. The standard of entries was extremely high, and it was a tough decision to choose a winner.”

He continued: “It’s been wonderful to see the hotel’s unique and vibrant history interpreted so artistically and with such colour. I’m sure the winning portraits will become a popular attraction for guests staying with us, as well as with the wider community here in Glasgow."

He explained what the inspiration was for the competition.

"We noticed that along the corridor there are pictures of years gone by, and the amount of guests who stop, look and comment on those pictures is unbelievable, but it is on a very small scale. There are only four prints on that wall," he said.

"We know the staircase where we are going to display the artwork is the most photographed part of the hotel, because of the chandelier. And we saw this as an opportunity to do something with the space that was there.

"We thought how can we use the stars from the silver screen who have visited us in the past, and utilise the space to create a must-see thing while they are in Glasgow. And that's why we came up with this."

The Herald:

The hotel, a key landmark in Glasgow right next to Central Station, has played host to some famous names over the years: Frank Sinatra was there, as was Nat King Cole, Danny Kaye, Sammy Davis Jnr, and The Beatles.

Cary Grant brought his Hollywood elegance to the hotel, as did Vivien Leigh and Jean Simmons.

Roy Rogers and Trigger spent time there - with both silver screen cowboy and his horse ‘signing in’ at the front desk - as well as Bob Hope, Mick Jagger and Billy Connolly.

And they were reflected in the competition entries, with famous faces shown in the Grand Central ballroom also including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr and The Beatles.

"We thought we should give local artists the chance to showcase their artwork on our walls. We will help by promoting them," added Mr Bray.