With his wonderful new solo exhibition, popular artist Jolomo has captured the spirit of the remote lands of Scotland. By Lorraine Wilson 

The clear light and vivid colour in the work of John Lowrie Morrison OBE (better known as Jolomo) is unmistakable.

Undoubtedly he is one of Scotland’s best-loved artists, but his reputation is global. Not only do HRH The Princess Royal, Dame Anne Gloag, and the Duke & Duchess of Argyll have Jolomos in their collections, but his work has also found its way to the homes of Sting, Madonna and Simon Le Bon – all seduced by his bold use of colour and his love of the Scottish landscape.

John, who lives and works in Argyll, studied at Glasgow School of Art and worked for 25 years in art education before leaving work to paint full-time in 1997. At the moment, there are 46 new works at the Strathearn Gallery in Crieff, focusing on two particular, and iconic, Scottish, buildings.

The exhibition, named The Croft and the Lighthouse, has a focus on buildings that Jolomo has been painting for more than 50 years. AS he says, he painted his first lighthouse at the age of eight.

“I was holiday with my mum and dad at Tighnabruiach when I started doing drawings and paintings of the Caladh Light,” he says.

“I’ve been fascinated by lighthouses ever since — I think I’ve read nearly every book on them! I love finding out about how the lights in the tower work and the different tower shapes, depending on how they’re placed. I also like the fact a lighthouse is important and stands so stately in the landscape.”

There is an emotional attachment to crofts, as his father was born in a croft. 

“I’ve been obsessed by croft houses ever since my first visit to the family croft on Harris as a child in the 1950s. That visit left an indelible mark on my soul. 

“Not only was my father born in a croft, there are still many crofts in the family — many Morrisons, MacLeods and MacSweens, not just in Harris but also Lewis, the Uists and the Isle of Skye.

“To me the croft house signifies hard work and resourceful people. I don’t include figures in my paintings, but I’ll paint a ladder leaning against a wall, an open door or gate, footprints in the sand, showing that someone was there.” 


Strathearn Gallery

While John enjoyed painting uninterrupted in his Argyll studio in the quiet of lockdown, he is delighted to be able to exhibit his work in person again – and it’s true that the impact of his work is best experienced in person.

Susan Bennett, owner of the Strathearn Gallery, is also delighted to see art lovers back in the space and particularly with an artist as popular.

“We’re delighted to  be back in the space and particularly with an artist as popular as John - an association that goes back to when the gallery opened in 1994. John’s exhibitions have always been popular and busy, with the gallery at its most vivid and colourful. 

“We also see many families visiting as Jolomo is an artist children learn about through the school curriculum. We hope his work helps inspire the next generation of Scottish artists.”

John Lowrie Morrison OBE's The Croft and The Lighthouse exhibition runs until Sunday, June 5 at the Strathearn Gallery, 32 West High Street, Crieff.