DETAILS have been revealed of the inaugural exhibition at a new Greenock gallery and museum celebrating the life and work of late Inverclyde artist George Wyllie ahead of its opening next month.

The Wyllieum is a dedicated space at the town's recently launched £20m ocean terminal  showcasing the legacy of George, who was born in Glasgow in 1921, served in the Royal Navy for four years and worked as a customs and excise officer for three decades before becoming a full-time artist in his late 50s.

As the first new, purpose-built museum to open in Scotland since 2011, the free attraction will be home to the largest collection of works by Wyllie in the world and its first display, Spires, will welcome visitors from April 26.

Wyllieum director, Will Cooper, who co-curated the display along with Sara Barker, said he 'can't wait' for the building and the 'hugely exciting' programme to open to the public.

Greenock Telegraph: George WyllieGeorge Wyllie (Image: The Wyllieum)

He said: “George Wyllie's decision to become an artist in his retirement is an inspiration for us all.

"His incredibly diverse artistic output included anxieties about the banking system and the role of European colonists in the formation of modern America; and many of his themes have become even more vital over time.

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"I am in awe of the dedicated hard work of impassioned supporters who have turned their love for George into The Wyllieum."

Featuring the largest selection of Spires ever shown in a single exhibition, alongside previously unseen archival documents, photographs and drawings, the display is among the most considered and well-developed bodies of work produced during the much-loved artist's career.

First appearing in his ground-breaking live work from 1982, A Day Down A Goldmine, these simple sculptural forms – a three-legged base with a vertical pole, held in balance by a rock or stone – draw inspiration from Wyllie’s full and varied life.

The strong vertical form and gimble used to create balance are borrowed from Wyllie’s deep love of all things maritime and their ability to sway and move in the wind creates a simple rhythm reminiscent of a flag, sail, or ship’s mast.

Louise Wyllie, George's daughter, said: "It has been a joy to witness fresh energetic people such as new Wyllieum director, Will Cooper, lead on the future of bringing my father’s work to audiences old and new.

"As a family, we are excited about his plans. In his job as a customs and excise officer, my father spent a lot of time at the docks in Greenock where the Wyllieum now sits.

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"His family is invested in seeing this cultural space thrive. We recognise in Will and Foundation chair, Michael Dale, the drive and ability to deliver a unique arts space for my father’s beloved Inverclyde and, of course, for Scotland.”

The gallery is housed in the new Ocean Terminal, a flagship project on the waterfront designed by renowned Scottish architect Richard Murphy OBE.

In August, The Wyllieum will present an exhibition in collaboration with Sculpture House, an artist-led initiative in Paisley. Home-Work will include work by artists including Laura Aldridge, James Rigler and Nick Evans.

More information will be announced in spring 2024, while Spires will run from April 26 to August 11.