John Cairney began drawing as soon as he could hold a pencil between his fingers. Still in short trousers, he won a gold medal in the Glasgow Schools’ Art Competition at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and later began training at Glasgow School of Art. This was cut short when he was called up for National Service in the RAF in Germany. When he returned to Glasgow, he entered the Glasgow College of Drama and trained as an actor, which he was for many years. It was during his time in New Zealand he resumed art training with Anneke Laan, an art teacher from Amsterdam, and began painting professionally in 1999. In Auckland, he won two Art Awards, had a solo exhibition at the Lake House, Takapuna, and was also shown at the Morgan Street Gallery, Newmarket.
On his return to Glasgow ten years later, his paintings were hung at the ARTeries Gallery, the Glasgow Art Club, and the Penalty Spot in Glasgow, the Henderson Gallery in Edinburgh, Rozelle House in Ayr, the Cockburn Gallery in Maybole and Scotland Artists in Bothwell.
The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum displayed ‘The Nine Lives of Burns’, the nine canvasses portraying key moments in the poet’s life, as did the Royal Overseas League in Edinburgh and the Glasgow Art Club. His religious series, fifteen paintings entitled ‘A Glasgow Calvary’, locating The Stations of the Cross in Glasgow, and seven canvasses depicting Our Lady’s life, ‘The Marian Way’, were exhibited at St Patrick’s Church in Anderston, Glasgow, and St Joseph’s in Kilmarnock. ‘A Glasgow Calvary’ also showed during the Scarecrow Festival in Bothwell. It was on exhibition at the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel April 2019. Both ‘The Marian Way’ and ‘A Glasgow Calvary’ now belong to the Archdiocese of Glasgow’s Art Archive. John’s thanks go to Matthew and Margaret Reilly for their generous patronage of these three projects.
John’s ‘The Mackintosh Series’, seven stories of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s artistic journey, exhibited at the Glasgow Art Club, then moved at the Mackintosh Queen’s Cross Church and closed at the Glasgow Mackintosh at the Willow in 2019.