Key facts about the artist

echo at omans
echo@ornans/hello (2013)

He's made a series of works called There's Wally, loosely influenced by the Where's Wally books
The Glasgow School of Art
Lives and works in Glasgow
Preferred medium


Video: Art in Scotland TV - Internet Curtains

About Iain's work

Iain Hetherington’s paintings reflect on a world where access to technology has allowed everyone to produce their own imagery. He deals with the problems of authenticity, value and validation in our contemporary, digital culture. His paintings are made in groups, but use those elements of studio work, like forgetfulness, applying paint without care and retaining flaws, that can come as a surprise during painting. The resulting differences between individual paintings are thus small but important. 

In the series of paintings Diversified Cultural Workers (begun 2007), figures or ‘characters’ are formed from a mass of smears and paint marks, reminiscent of those on a traditional painter’s palette. But the figures are adorned by the baseball caps and gold chains of hip-hop and so-called ‘ned’ cultures. Rather than clichéd pictures of underprivileged social groups, these characters may be cultural administrators dressed in street garb. It is a strange reversal of working-class culture’s appropriation of the upper-class clothes of country gents. It is hard to tell if they are just ‘getting down’ with street culture or if access policies have reached their logical conclusion with galleries and theatres overrun by a wild mob, fighting, spraying graffiti and looting.

In a new series of works, There’s Wally (begun 2011), the presence of the internationally recognisable comic-book character ‘Wally’ is suggested by the appearance of his signature stripy hat and cane. In Hetherington’s paintings Wally appears in empty dramas, ‘fight clouds’ and abstractions or doodled, pseudo-analytic diagrams, rather than the crowd scenes familiar from the books. In these works, Hetherington shifts attention to the art world itself, presenting the artist’s image as a product of a series of networks where high visibility is more important than quality. The dream of everyone being an artist reaches its conclusion as a banal reality … everyone is an artist, anyone can wear Wally’s hat, but where did art go?


Iain Hetherington (born 1978 in Glasgow) graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a Master’s degree in 2004. A solo show, titled Harmless Domain, was held at The Old Hairdressers, Glasgow in 2013. Recent group exhibitions include: Iain Hetherington, Jacob Kerray and Owen Piper, CCA, Glasgow (2013); The Irregular Correct – New Art from Glasgow, Freemantle Arts Centre, Australia (2012); Industrial Aesthetics, Times Square Gallery, New York (2011); Nothing in the World but Youth, Turner Contemporary, Margate (2011); Beholder, Talbot Rice, Edinburgh (2011); Hau auf die Leberwurst, Bender Space, London (2011); Jerwood Contemporary Painters, Jerwood Space, London (2010); Newspeak: British Art Now, Saatchi Gallery, London (2010); Play, Monica De Cardenas, Milan (2009); Nought to Sixty, ICA, London (2008); and Diversified Cultural Workers, Mary Mary, Glasgow (2008). He lives and works in Glasgow.

More information

Lauren Cornell, Massimiliano Gioni and Laura Hoptman (eds), Younger Than Jesus: Artist Directory, Phaidon, London, 2009 

Nought to Sixty, ICA, London, 2008

Newspeak: British Art Now, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2010

Elsewhere on the web