The Distillers’ Art

Brian McFie

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Brian McFie is a visual artist, musician and the creator of ‘Caol Isla’, a vibrant painting paired with the single malt, Caol Ila, from our unique Spirit of Art range.

Brian’s career is a fascinating and diverse one. When Brian McFie was a guitarist in Scottish pop band The Big Dish, their song ‘Miss America’ was an anthem at Glasgow School of Art. Our Commissioning Artist, Nichol Wheatley, remembers the song fondly and was a fan the group. Nichol knew of Brian from The Big Dish fame, but had no idea that he, like him, was a fellow graduate of the art school.

Nichol met Brian in the autumn of 2013 at a meeting to discuss the starting of the Scottish Arts Council, Nichol started to see more of Brian’s art. “I greatly admired it,” Nichol recalls. “Still, I hadn’t made the connection to the musician I had idolised when I was at art school.”

Graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 1983, The Big Dish split up in 1990, but Brian remained in the musical world in various guises until 2006 when he circled back to his first love – painting.

Brian’s paintings demonstrate a huge range of techniques from figurative to abstract. In his figurative work there are delicate drawings at the Falls of Clyde. He draws inspiration from the landscape immediately surrounding his home in the South side of Glasgow, from the Scottish islands and the shores of the Forth.

With Brian’s abstract work, closer examination rewards the viewer with a rich and varied range of mark making and use of colour. This can be seen in his painting ‘Caol Isla’, a vivid depiction of the peat smoke and green pastures seen at Caol Ila distillery in Islay, across the water from Jura.

“I’ve always liked the sound of Jura,” said Brian. “Walking north from port Askaig ferry, you walk along the foreshore in front of the Caol Ila distillery. The view back toward the distillery and the port is always lovely.”

Brian McFie Gallery

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