Top Scots artist, John Bellany is losing his sight

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Artist John Bellany, one of Scotland’s foremost painters, is losing his sight. Bellany, arguably Scotland’s pre-eminent artist, whose works are held in major galleries worldwide, has faced down past health crises, including a liver transplant and a heart attack that nearly killed him. (article here)  But last week the 67-year-old was given the potentially devastating diagnosis that he is suffering from macular degeneration, the loss of central vision that can make it difficult or impossible to read or to recognise faces.

His wife Helen said the diagnosis meant that her husband was “legally classified as being blind”.

She said: “He is managing to paint – it depends on the light and things like this, but I tell you if anybody can paint when they are going blind it will be John.

“The consultant said there is nothing they can do. They can just help him with magnifying glasses.”

Bellany’s sight failed to clear after a cataract operation last year, and although he has been painting long hours, he has sometimes struggled to see faces or the television screen.

Macular degeneration can vary in its severity and speed, typically leaving some peripheral vision.

Bellany was being characteristically optimistic, but said it was “quite a thought”.

“Maybe I’ve been painting too much, and worn my eyes out,” he added.

Bellany, a fisherman’s son from Port Seton, took the Scottish art world by storm in the 1960s.

Fellow Scottish artist Peter Howson recently called him “the biggest inspiration to me” and compared his 1980s etchings to the work of Michelangelo.

His collectors include the contemporary artist Damien Hirst, who has bought nine of his paintings since 2003.

The painter’s long-time Edinburgh dealer, Tom Wilson, of the Open Eye Gallery, said: “As far as I am concerned, it is a sad day, but mark my words, John is a fighter, and with Helen’s help and his dogged determination, nothing will stop him. Even with peripheral vision, he will continue like he always has.”

Bellany’s wife Helen added: “My clarinet teacher told John to remember that Beethoven was completely deaf but continued to compose such marvellous work. John will most certainly be carrying on that tradition.”

The pace of Bellany’s life and work has not slackened despite age and health setbacks.

Next month he will be the subject of a major BBC Scotland documentary, which was made by his son Paul, (article here)  and the Beaux Arts gallery in London will exhibit his work from five decades.  source –  By Tim Cornwell – Scotland on Sunday

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John Bellany art works go under the hammer in Glasgow Largest ever collection of work by Scottish artist comes up for sale. A Glasgow auction house is to host one of the year's most significant art sales when 137 works by Scottish artist John Bellany go under the hammer. The auction at McTear's on March 27 comes only days after the artist revealed that he is losing his sight through a condition known as macular degeneration. The sale, which includes oils, watercolours, drawings and etchings from a number of private and corporate collectors, is the largest ever to appear in… Read more »