George Wyllie’s unique creativity, infused with humour and joie de vivre, has won him an enduring place in Scottish art
George Wyllie was a bit of a rascal. “There was one time my mother, Daphne, left him on the beach at Wemyss Bay, I think, collecting stones to use in his sculptures,” recalls his elder daughter Louise. “He was forever gathering stones, bits of driftwood, all sorts of beach debris. She came back to collect him but he wasn’t there. She searched up and down the shore and then spotted him lying at the water’s edge, the tide lapping up over his feet. He’d fallen over and knocked himself out on the rocks! My mother was really cross with him. She said that the pockets of his trousers and jacket were full of stones; what would people have thought if they’d found him before she did?” Louise laughs, remembering her mother’s anger at the idea of people thinking her husband might have been trying to commit suicide. But when George was working he was lost in his own world, and Daphne was used to that. The couple had an understanding, a balance.
When Daphne died following a stroke in 2002, George described it as the family having “lost its equilibrium”. He was helpless. He’d spent every day by her sickbed, feeding her, unable to leave her side. “He was a maker and I think he always thought he could fix things,” Louise explains. “He was from that era where you would just mend everything. He wasn’t expecting this and didn’t know what to do.”
This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 155-157, issue 108.
Words Catherine Coyle