PERHAPS it was growing up in the smog of 1950s Glasgow that has made light and colour such a distinctive feature of the work of acclaimed artist John Lowrie Morrison. “One night the smog was so thick I walked right into a pole. It was dreadful,” he remembers.

He also remembers wanting to make a living as an artist from a very early age, having been introduced to painting when he started infant school. “I thought it was wonderful and I decided I was going to do it forever – and I have,” said Morrison, who is widely known as Jolomo.

He was young, too, when he realised the importance of light for an artist. “I was around seven-years-old when I noticed there was something special about working on a painting with really good light and I have tried to capture that ever since,” he says. “Light gives colour and lifts the soul.”

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It was the light that brought him to Tayvallich in Argyll and Bute where he has now lived for over 50 years, painting landscapes that are snapped up almost as soon as he finishes them. “People ask what is so special about the light here but it is so pure,” says Jolomo. “The further out into the Atlantic you go, the purer the air is and it is a glorious light, just sparkling.”

It continues to inspire him and he now has a new collection of paintings which will go on show at The Glasgow Gallery On November 18.

The new exhibition is aptly called The Glorious Light of the West and again celebrates the beautiful west coast of Scotland in the iconic style and diverse colour palette which has made Jolomo one of the UK’s most popular and successful artists, with over 300 solo shows in places as far apart as China and the US.

He has also received an OBE for his services to art and charity in Scotland, Honorary Doctorates from the University of the West of Scotland and Abertay Dundee University and was named in “Scotland’s Greatest Ever…” by The Sunday Times. 

Despite graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 1972, Jolomo only went full time as an artist in 1997 after an extensive career in art education which saw him being promoted from Principal Teacher of Art at Lochgilphead High School to Art Adviser for the whole of Strathclyde.

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He eventually gave that up to concentrate on painting and was pleasantly surprised when his first show sold out.

“Right away they were selling like anything,” he says. “At first you think it is a one off, but then it was just one show after another, all sell-outs, and it is still like that, particularly in places like London.”

The sea and lighthouses have long held a particular fascination for Jolomo but it was only recently that he discovered his great-grandfather had been a lighthouse keeper.

“That was really weird because I have always had a feeling for lighthouses so it must be in the blood,” he says. “It’s the same with the sea. My dad, Murdo, lived in Pollokshaws but he liked to go back home to Harris on the Western Isles and I have photos of him in bare feet on fishing boats.”

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While Jolomo’s signature style is evident in the new exhibition it also shows an interesting twist in his use of colour. “I usually use yellows, oranges, blue and a lot of green but this one has purples and pinks and it is quite different,” he says. “I’ve never done it before but it has worked really well. The main colour is magenta and I think it is just lovely.”

Jolomo always includes at least one large painting in his exhibitions but this show features more, with one of the Paps of Jura measuring 36 inches by 68 inches.

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Jolomo added: “The exhibition is really just showing how glorious the west is. It is a wonderful, wonderful place and everything I do has something to do with the light. The light has definitely got into me and I think that is always what it has been about.”

Jolomo’s forthcoming exhibition ‘The Glorious Light Of The West’ – a solo show by Dr John Lowrie Morrison OBE – opens 18th November until 16th December at The Glasgow Gallery, 182 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 4HG.