John Bellany is one of the most distinguished artists in Scotland today. He was born in Port Seton in 1942 into a family of fisherfolk and boat-builders, and this experience of fishing villages and people gives his art a rich source of powerful symbols and characters.
After Preston Lodge School he attended Edinburgh College of Art and was awarded post-graduate and travelling scholarships, visiting Paris, Holland and Belgium. His studies continued at the Royal College of Art from 1965-8 under Carol Weight. Together with his close friends, painter Sandy Moffat and poet Alan Bold, he visited Germany in 1967, including the Buchenwald concentration camp, an experience that gave new impetus to his work. He held lectureships at Brighton, Winchester, and Goldsmith’s Colleges of Art, and the RCA, and was Artist in Residence in Melbourne, Australia in 1983.
He was awarded the CBE in 1994 and Honorary Doctorates at Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities in 1996 and 1998.
There is scarcely an art gallery in which he is not represented, from Orkney to the Tate, Australia to New York, and his output is phenomenal, always courageous and memorable.
He is a painter with a passionate vision in a world of art that is often negative and meaningless.
THIS ACCOUNT OF COCKENZIE & PORT SETON WAS COMPILED BY THE COCKENZIE & PORT SETON LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, RESEARCH AND ESSAYS WERE PROVIDED BY THE FOLLOWING:
- Julie Aitken: Economy – Industry – Fishing (interview with Billy Thomson – Bumps)
- Robert Bryson: Townscapes, Buildings & Landscapes of Distinction – The Pond and Pond Hall, the building, and its role in Leisure and in Tourism; Economy – Industry, Tourism data
- John Busby: Miscellany – People, John Bellany
- Sheila Chambers: Healthcare
- M. Chapman: Economy – Tourism, Seton Sands Holiday Camp
- Tom Donaldson: Belief
- Jimmy Hogg: Economy – Industry, Boatbuilding and Repairing
- Jane Innes: Education
- Gordon Jamieson: Education
- Jean Johnstone: Leisure – Cockenzie & Port Seton Local History Society
- Barry Johnstone: Townscapes, Buildings & Landscapes of Distinction; Revisiting the Past
- Duncan Morgan: Homes: Location, Type & Ownership; Changes in the Burgh; Cockenzie High Street
- Elizabeth Taverner: Introduction; Business and Retail Outlets; Education; Cockenzie & Port Seton Local History Society
- Veronica Wallace: Box Meeting Traditions (www.longniddryrotary.org)
- Thanks are due to Mrs A. Hickie, daughter of Provost John Hall Weatherhead; Mr T. Dickson, Pond Master 1972-89, and Mr Dickson, his son, for their assistance with the material on the Pond and Pond Hall. Also to Annette Gilroy for her piece on local dialect – A Meeting of Two Fishermen at the Harbour.