Updated: Wednesday, 1st March 2017 @ 1:36pm

Billy Connolly discusses 'personal and private' sketches in Deansgate art exhibition

Billy Connolly discusses 'personal and private' sketches in Deansgate art exhibition

By Claire Holden

Billy Connolly's Deansgate exhibition is wowing Manchester art-lovers as the comedian-turned-sketcher sees pieces sell out.

Connolly’s Born On A Rainy Day is being exhibited at Castle Gallery, Deansgate after its launch on March 17.

The collection of fine art prints features images of characters that are faceless and completely anonymous.

Connolly insists this project is a separate entity from comedy or movies. He said of his latest venture: “My art is pure and unjudged. I am creating it for myself - it is personal and private.”

Castle Galleries, who have exhibited celebrity art work before – ranging from Bob Dylan to Terry Wogan, say the work is very different to the commercial art they usually stock.

Gavin Hayes, Art Advisor at Castle Gallery Manchester said: “It is always difficult launching a new artist but if that artist happens to be a celebrity the helps because people can associate with them straight away.”

Castle Gallery Manchester has already sold out of ‘Pink Tie and Hanky’, one of the pieces in the collection, since the exhibition opened less than two weeks ago.

His style of drawing has been likened to the Surrealist Automatism movement; a technique whereby the artist allows his hand to move randomly across the paper or canvas, without intending to create anything specifically.

The images in Born On A Rainy Day are undoubtedly very real and recognisable (a dog, an angel) but also seem to float out of all context as if in a dream or a memory.

Laura McBeth of Washington Green Fine Art, a partnership company of Castle Galleries, said: “Each drawing has taken its own path and begins to come alive as the viewer creates their own unique narrative.”

The images are simple in their outline but delicate and intricate in their detail. They are devoid of emotion but sensitively connect with their audience.

Mr Hayes pondered: “They are extraordinarily detailed; almost manically so.

"They make you want to look closely and see the amount of lines and you wonder where is the starting point for them?”

The project started for Connolly during a trip to Montreal in 2007, where, for the very first time, the artistic drive kicked in and could not be ignored.

He began by sketching desert islands, one after the other, each island taking on its own characteristics and personality.

Connolly remarked “The fifth island, I noticed, was considerably better than the first one. This progression in such a short time really excited me.”

In 2010 Connolly started to create a collection of his work, which would be named after that fateful drizzly day in Canada.

Connolly said: “Art, for me, bears no relation to comedy or music.

“With a film, comedy show or music you expect people to be critiquing, watching, assessing. Art is different; it liberates you.”

Billy Connolly’s collection, Born On A Rainy Day, can be seen at Castle Gallery Manchester, Deansgate.