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Portraits – John Byrne

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The artist and playwright Mr John Byrne photographed in Edinburgh on the 26th May 2017.

The sun has been shining this week but that hasn’t stopped a dark cloud from consuming me. I have felt totally devastated and utterly heartbroken because of the despicable and horrific terrorist attack in Manchester. Ive felt in a constant state of complete disbelief, bewildered, shocked, disgusted and saddened at the state of the world and the disgusting actions of a fellow human being.

So it was a welcome distraction that my mood was lifted when I photographed the artist and playwright Mr John Byrne at his home studio in Edinburgh today. For a few hours recent news events were forgotten about.

Mr Byrne was a truly delightful fella. His passion for art and the way he explained to me in such beautiful terms the process of creating his plays was truly compelling. I found him to be as interesting as the art he creates.

He explained to me how the characters in his plays are quite literally born out of him. He starts by writing down the names of his characters, drawing them in detail and then writing out the play on his typewriter, typing with one finger at a pace not to get ahead of his thinking. Lovely snippets of information that gave me a glimpse into his brain!

Having listened to him describe his writing process I got a real sense of the value he places on the traditional materials that he uses, the tools of his trade, the manual type writer, sketch pads and imported painting inks.

It was great chatting to Mr Byrne and I think it would be hard for a person not to be enriched by his presence and his company. He explained how a new day for him is like a new chapter, a new adventure with no time given to reflect on the past.

John Byrne is a true creative force and a real trail blazer. He told me that he doesnt seek out inspiration from any particular aspect of life but relies solely on his mind and imagination. I on the other hand couldn’t help but feel inspired and infused by his positivity and spirit.

Paul Crowther
26th May 2017