National Galleries acquire portrait of musical superstar

A portrait of one of Scotland’s most prominent musical exports has been acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland.

But it’s not Lulu, Sir Harry Lauder or Sydney Devine – it’s a contemporary work featuring one of the most successful and influential music artists working today, the Scottish songwriter and DJ Calvin Harris.

The photographic portrait will be the first image of the Dumfries musician to enter the NGS collection and will go on display immediately in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (SNPG) in Edinburgh.

The internationally known musician – real name Adam Richard Wiles – was photographed by the English photographer Paul Stuart as part of a commission by GQ Italia magazine in February 2015.

The large chromogenic print shows Harris seated on a trestle table, his profile diagonal to the camera, his hands resting on his lap and sleeves rolled up. Stuart has captured the artist looking deeply thoughtful yet poised.

Christopher Baker, director, European and Scottish Art and Portraiture at the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “Calvin Harris has made a remarkable contribution to music both in Scotland and globally over the last decade and we are absolutely delighted to have him represented in Scotland’s national collection.

‘Few artists can equal the impact he has made on contemporary culture, and Paul Stuart’s portrait is a reflective, exceptional image which the many visitors to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery will now be able to enjoy.’

Paul Stuart said: ‘I found Calvin to be thoughtful and considerate and at 6ft 5’ he is also physically striking. In contrast to his profession, I am interested in silence to create an atmosphere. It is an honour to have my work included in the National Galleries of Scotland.’

As Calvin Harris, the Scot has achieved remarkable success as a DJ, singer, songwriter, record producer, model and entrepreneur. He first began making demos in his bedroom in 1999, before going on to release his first single at the age of 18. Harris’ sound is predominantly inspired by music from the 1980s, along with groups such as Jamiroquai and Fatboy Slim. In 2010 he launched his own record label Fly Eye Records.

Harris became one of the most popular artists in the world, accruing recognition at the very highest level, with Grammy, Ivor Novello and MTV Europe Music awards among his accolades. Harris is also the highest-paid DJ in the world, a title he has held since 2013, and has broken numerous long-standing records in the UK and American music charts. He recently extended a deal to be resident DJ at a nightclub within Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas until 2020.

Closer to home, the DJ has a massive following in his native Scotland, regularly headlining music festivals and selling-out standalone appearances in minutes.

The photographer Paul Stuart was born in West Sussex and studied at the University of Wales, Newport from where he obtained a first class degree in documentary photography. He is now based in London and specialises in portraiture, with his photographs regularly appearing in publications such as GQ, The Guardian and the Sunday Times; his work is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London.

While Stuart has exhibited work as part of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize that was displayed at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in spring 2016, this will be the first of his photographs to be represented in the permanent collection.