January 26, 2024

Jim Donnelly, Outside of house decorated with protest signs

this picture (September 2021) and the next three
screenprints from
Google Maps

The Scottish art environments reviewed so far in this blog, such as those created by Alex Batchelor, Frank Bruce, William R. Bisset and the anonymous maker of the shell decorated property Shelleen, are all situated in small towns or rural areas.

However, the Scottish art environment discussed in this article, is located in the large city of Glasgow, and not in a back street, but along the London Road, one of the major thoroughfares in the city.

August 2008
Life and works

The creator of this art environment, Jim Donnelly (also James Donnelly or JD), was born in 1941. He became a trader at a market in Glasgow called Barras, a special market focused on the sale of handmade products. He also developed as an outsider artist, mainly working on a variety of paintings in a personal style.

Donnelly was probably married, because available documentation states that a daughter died when she was 26 years old. However, in the following story about the part of his life that began in his early sixties, no wife appears.

On November 8, 2002, a large group of police officers searched Donnelly's house in connection with stolen jewelry belonging to the mother of Princess Diana, who lived in a house on the island of Seil, 185 kilometers north-west of Glasgow.

The search of the house was probably correct in a formal sense, but it was based on a rather vague description of the perpetrator, in which the Glasgow police believed they recognized Donelly, who as a market trader was more or less a public figure in Glasgow. 

The raid by the police deeply affected Donnelly. As a suspected thief, he felt he was being treated very unfairly and moreover, the search of the house had caused all kinds of irreparable damage to the house.
September 2012

The police saw no reason to improve the situation with some form of compensation and continued to adopt a formalistic approach.

Donnelly, for his part and given his artistic background, saw no other way to express his disappointment and find compensation for his sadness, than by transforming the space in front of his house into an area of protest expressions.

It became a project that continues to this day and the site is regularly provided with new expressions. The first manifestation was relatively modest in size, but gradually an extensive and colorful set of signs emerged that filled the entire strip along the street in front of the house.

The protest signs include various texts that refer to the theft of the jewelry or speak of illegal activities by the police, but there are also images that express how Donelly experienced the event, for example an image of the face of a man with the word gagged between his lips, snakes wriggling on the sign, heads of men with their finger in front of their mouth to indicate that there is silence .....

July 2019

In December 2015, a petition was sent to Nicola Sturgeon, at that time political leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland, asking her to pay attention to the conflict and to do justice to Jim Donnelly, but this did not lead to action.

* Article by Katherine Sutherland in Raw Vision #116 (December 2023)
* Pictures on Instagram
* Article, August 2018, in Scottish newspaper Daily Record, with photos
* Article, February 2023, in newspaper Scottish Daily Express

* Video by Mark Gillies JD and the jewels (8.08, YouTube, December 2020) 

Jim Donnelly
Outside of house decorated with protest signs
1467 London Road, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
can be seen from the street

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