Joe O’Brien was born in 1961 in  the Maryhill district of Glasgow. He had what he calls a normal working class upbringing in a Roman Catholic household along with his three brothers.

O’Brien States that while he wouldn’t call himself religious he does very much think of himself as a spiritual creature and he is grateful for his religious background steeped as it was in icons saints and creative myths.


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The reclusive  O’Brien locked himself away in an abandoned Victorian prison in Glasgow Eastend for a period of approximately 7 years. Despite his self-imposed solitary lifestyle lived in a Cell he would, in his own words, “never feel so free”.

These subjects combined with his fascination for all things historical, have contributed to the kinds of paintings which he now creates. After leaving School he worked in  various dead-end jobs before finding the courage to answer his artistic calling in order to learn his craft.


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He refers to his creative evolution as a winding Road surrounded on all sides by the most incredible landscapes. He feels  privileged to be making such a journey!

After emerging from that cell O’Brien would go on to share a studio with his contemporaries Peter Howson and Frank McFadden.

Art critics and galleries began to appreciate O’Briens imagery and his works are now collected both at home in his native Scotland and further a field.