AN award-winning Nitshill artist who once sold a ceramic pot to Billy Connolly has given his neighbourhood an unexpected makeover.

Noel McKenna turned his talents to give a little life to a dull-looking electricity box outside his home by transforming it into a mini Glasgow tenement.

Glasgow Times:

The 57-year-old said he had to work “surreptitiously” to avoid being stopped by busybodies.

“I’m into architecture and one day I noticed the box had a wee apex roof,” he said of his inspiration for the project.

“I thought, that looks like a tenement, I need to cheer that up a bit.”

Glasgow Times:

He used stencils and paint to make the energy hub look like a classic Glasgow block of flats.

“I thought I might get a row for this, so I went out and pretended I was fixing a bike but I realised the cops have seen me doing stuff like this before and they’re quite happy with it, they’re not bothered," Noel added.

Glasgow Times:

“It cost sod all to do it as well. It cost about a fiver’s worth of paint and then forty minutes work on it, but I have touched it up since.”

He has been an artist since the tender age of five, around the same time Noel moved from Springburn to Nitshill.

“I was part of the Glasgow overspill. When I was a wee kid, I saw the tenements coming down in Springburn and it was pretty bloody bleak.

“I mind when I first moved here, I looked out the window and seen a field of cows and trees and we had a proper bath and a toilet, it was amazing.

“The tenement I was born in was from I think 1870-odd and it was filled with cockroaches. Once, me and my pal found a dead rat and we carried it about with us in a pram.”

He studied for a degree in ceramics at the Glasgow School of Art from 1987 to 1991 and went on to enjoy a career teaching art to adults, most recently at a community centre in East Kilbride, before the coronavirus crisis struck and selling pieces of his art for cash.

“I have been boasting about this for years but Billy Connolly once bought one of my pieces,” said Noel.

He never actually got to meet the Big Yin because the famous Glasgow comic was buying one of Noel’s works on display in a gallery.

He added: “It’s a great one to have because if I’m selling a piece, I can say, Billy Connolly bought one just like this. Then they say, we’ll if he’s got one, I’ll have one too.”

His Tower of Babel sculpture won an award from the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts a number of years ago. He attempted to give the piece to the St Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life in 2015, but his offer was rejected.