CELEBRATED artist and playwright John Byrne came back to his roots for the opening of his annual drawing competition exhibition.

John, aged 79, was born in Paisley’s Ferguslie Park and went to school in the town’s St Mirin’s Academy.

john byrne

And on Wednesday (March 27) he returned to Ferguslie for the launch of the 2019 John Byrne Drawing Competition exhibition being held in The Tannahill Centre, in Blackstoun Road.

John – who found fame through his paintings, artwork for album record covers, along with creating and writing theatre and television shows – met two talented local school pupils who were runners-up in the competition.

The artwork of Marie McNicol, from Paisley Grammar School and Rachel Bryceland from Trinity High School, in Renfrew has been chosen to be shown in the free exhibition, which is open to the public until Monday, April 15.

The exhibition, organised by Education Scotland in partnership with Renfrewshire Leisure, showcases the highlights of the fifth annual John Byrne Drawing Competition, open to young people from Primary 4 to S3 from all over Scotland.

John joined pupils from St Fergus and Glencoats Primary Schools in a drawing workshop at The Tannahill Centre before the official launch of the exhibition.

Chairperson of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “This annual drawing competition is a great way to encourage young people to fulfil their artistic potential.

“John Byrne is one of Paisley’s famous sons and his paintings and plays are enjoyed by many generations.

“And for all we know, we might find a new John Byrne in our midst among the young artists whose work is on show at the exhibition.

“I’m particularly pleased to congratulate the two pupils from Renfrewshire whose work has been chosen to feature in the exhibition.”

Alan Armstrong, Strategic Director for Education Scotland said: “Art and design are important parts of the Scottish curriculum.

“For years, this competition has encouraged many thousands of children to use their artistic talents to create inspiring and unique drawings.

“Education Scotland is proud to support the competition and its ethos of keeping the art of drawing alive.”