Somerville’s nostalgic subject matter was borne out of an inherent desire to visualise the vivid memories of his Glaswegian childhood. A Glaswegian childhood which was lived out during the industrial 1950s. Somerville strives to reimagine the places and the people which and who shaped his youth and formative years, despite the very vistas of foundries, factories and steel works having been long gone and forever disappeared from this urban landscape.
Somerville was born in Glasgow, 1947 into a city that conveyed a great and powerful atmosphere during this period. Bustling streets, coupled with a vim and vigour to its citizens and residents, which engendered this all-pervading, steely sense of community.
Somerville’s artist attributes were recognised by others from an early age. After graduating in the late 1960s from the Glasgow School of Art Somerville decided to enter the world of commercial art and ended up securing roles as an Illustrator in a succession of city advertising agencies, which he focused on for many years. Turning from full-time employee to freelancer, Somerville finally turned his back on commerce and turned professional later in life. Although his personal art had never left him as all the time Somerville had been plugging away, painting for pleasure well into his adulthood, and eventually forged the opportunity to present some of his artistic back catalogue in a raft of Scottish galleries.
When pressed on his particular style, Somerville insists that it’s a very spontaneous one, and that rather like his creative career up until the point he started to make a name for himself, was similarly haphazard and uncoordinated as such. Once a subject presents itself to Somerville, he describes how he readily lays down the paint to the canvas in something akin to a frenzy of activity, conducted in a decidedly bold linear style for the most part. In terms of his inspirations, aside from the subject matter which as outlined above comes courtesy of his youthful memories, Somerville cites the classic comics and graphic novels he pored over fastidiously as a child.
Having never strayed far from his native Glasgow during his working life, Somerville today retires to his studio when he needs to get away from it all and paint, which is situated in a small fishing village found on Scotland’s east coast. Whilst Somerville himself may not have travelled that far away from home, his reputation and work on the other hand is well-journeyed, as testified to by the knowledge that his work is exhibited in numerous private and corporate collections from the South of France to the most northern reaches of Canada.
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