George Ralston Wylie

1921 - 2012

Sculptor. Born in Shettleston and raised in Craigton, Wylie was educated at Bellahouston Academy and Allan Glen's School. He served in the navy during World War II and then worked as a customs and excise officer in Glasgow, Prestwick, and in Ireland before settling in Gourock. His career changed late in life, leaving his job in 1979 to work full-time as an artist. Wylie is best known for his large temporary public artworks, perhaps most notably the Straw Locomotive which was suspended from the Finnieston Crane next to the River Clyde during the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988. This full-size replica of a steam locomotive was built at the former locomotive works in Springburn and finally destroyed by fire in a Viking-style funeral. Two years later, his Paper Boat sailed from Glasgow to the USA and back, featuring on the front page of the Wall Street Journal when it berthed at the World Financial Center in New York in 1990. Running Clock (2000) outside Buchanan Street Underground Station provokes a smile from Glaswegians, while his Monument to Maternity (2004), in the form of an enormous stainless-steel safety pin on the site of the former Rottenrow Maternity Hospital, also in Glasgow, was commissioned by the University of Strathclyde.

In 1990 Wylie was granted an honorary degree by University of Strathclyde (who also hold his archive). He was awarded an MBE in 2005 and honorary fellowship of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (2008). His life and work featured in the film The Why?s Man (1990) for Channel 4.

Wylie died in Inverclyde Royal Hospital and his funeral took place at Greenock Crematorium.

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