Born in Shettleston in Glasgow, he worked as a Post Office
engineer until war service in the Royal Navy, after which he became
a Customs Officer in Ireland and on the West Coast of Scotland.
Inspired by Italian metal sculpture, he attended welding classes
at Royal Technical College (now University of Strathclyde), and studied
part-time at GSA
Becoming a full-time artist in 1979, he specialised in mixed media,
kinetic, installation and performance art, and developed a distinctive form of "Social
Scul?ture", humorously exploring Joseph Beuy's assertion that "all
art is questionable" (Nisbet, in
Exhibiting regularly throughout the UK since the 1960's, his
work is represented in major public and private collections including,
, University of Stirling and the Scottish Arts Council.
His contributions to Glasgow's Mayfest include Just In Case,
Glasgow Cross (1995), and the Straw Locomotive (1987).
For the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival he produced Arrivals and
An artist of international stature, his Gulbenkian Prize-winning
Paper Boat sailed down the Clyde, Sheldt and Hudson rivers in 1990.
Scotland on Sunday newspaper now gives "Paper Boat Awards" to
artists producing work of distinction.
One of his ventures, a giant Crystal Ship (2000), was proposed
as a permanent feature of the rejuvenated Govan dry dock, but sadly never
Based in Gourock since 1959, he was also a painter, musician and song writer,
and donated his collected works to the University of Strathclyde, which includes
his famous colossal safety pin Monument to Maternity on the site of the
Rottenrow Maternity Hospital on the university campus.
To mark his 90th birthday, the university's Collins Gallery mounted a retrospective
of George's life and work, George Wyllie A Life Less Ordinary
(10 March - 21 April 2012), as part of a wider celebration of his career held
throughout the city: The Whysman Festival.
It was during these events that George passed away, and it was fitting that his exit
from the Scottish art scene should have occurred with such a blaze of glory and
recognition that these festivals provided in celebrating him as Scotland's best loved