Artist Alec Galloway has a heart of glass

The colourful creations of legendary stained glass artist Alec Galloway are admired across the world from Ayrshire to the Emirates.

Despite falling into the genre by accident, Skelmorlie glass artist Alec Galloway’s work can be seen around the world, with his stunning pieces featuring from Glasgow to London and the United Arab Emirates.

When he left his native western Scotland to study at Edinburgh College of Art, working in stained glass had never occurred to him. A passionate musician who regularly gigs with his band,

Alec was originally interested in graphic design. ‘I thought that was the route I’d go down, doing graphics for bands and things. It was only when I was there that I fell in love with glass and changed direction. I was just drawn to that department, I found the colours and everything really magical.’

Despite studying in Edinburgh, Alec’s ties to the West of Scotland have always shone through his work and the people, landscapes and light of the west coast continue to inspire him. ‘I do quite a lot of public artwork that tends to revolve around Scottish history and the history of where I was born,’ he says.

‘I’m from Inverclyde and I recently did a project to do with the sugar heritage there. It was a lovely project called Absent Voices. Inverclyde has a real ship building industry, but the sugar industry was massive too and it tends to get overlooked. My family were all sugar people, they worked in the factories and the refi neries, so I’ve got a connection to that and those kind of personal and historical themes tend to feed into the work.’

His global pieces include work in the flagship Burj Al Arab in Dubai. ‘I worked for a company that did all the stained glass in there,’ Alec explains. ‘It was quite an exciting time, it was when Dubai was really starting to bloom and all these new buildings were happening everywhere. There is something really exciting about the large pieces; to see your work on that kind of scale is really quite humbling.

‘But the small projects and public art schemes are lovely too because they involve a lot of other people as well. I tend to split my time between working completely in isolation on smaller pieces in the studio, and doing the larger projects with architects, consultants and teams of engineers. It’s quite a nice balance.

‘I’m currently working on a lovely project, which is marrying my love of music and glass. It’s called Axis and basically it’s taking iconic British guitars played by famous guitar players and rendering those in stained glass. It has involved going to meet a lot of wonderful, really famous British guitar players. It’s great. We go to these different people and study the instrument, draw it, photograph it and then I put it in to glass. That project will culminate in a large exhibition. There is going to be one in London, one in New York and one in Glasgow, so that’s really exciting.

‘Working in stained glass is a niche sort of thing but thankfully there are still people hat want to learn about it. There is a kind of ardcore of small groups of enthusiasts and people like the Scottish Glass Society are still very active. We all promote each other’s work and just try to keep it alive as much as possible.’

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(This feature was originally published in 2016)