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FOR the past 32 years he has spent his working life sweeping the streets of the West End of Glasgow.

But on his days off, Allan Richardson retreats to his artist's studio and works on his latest masterpiece.

Allan took up painting at school when he was 16 but left shortly after to start a job with the council as a street sweeper.

He works from the Glasgow City Council's Western depot and in all weathers is to be found helping to keep the areas near Byres Road free of litter.

But he has never lost his passion for art and throughout his working life has continued to learn and develop it.

Allan admits he enjoys his paid job and the people he meets when he is working. An added advantage is that it has allowed him to study the beautiful buildings in the West End which have featured in his work.

In 2009, a change in his working patterns allowed Allan to spend more time in his studio in the Gallowgate.

Previously, he could only devote his two days off a week to his art but now works four on, four off shifts allowing him more time to pursue his hobby.

Allan, who lives near Kelvin Hall, said: "I do drawings and paintings mostly of buildings and street scenes but at the moment I am doing mainly print making.

"Sometimes I work with oil or charcoal or pastels – it depends what I think best suits the subject I am doing."

Recently, a number of Allan's works went on display in the new tearoom in the Botanic Gardens to widespread praise from visitors.

But he admits he does not festoon his home with his paintings, preferring instead to keep what he has not sold in his studio.

Allan said: "Most of the watercolours have sold but I have quite a lot of etchings.

"I haven't done any painting for months but have been drawing and printing which are different disciplines."

It is unlikely many street sweepers are painters in their spare time but Allan said he has the support of his work colleagues.

He said: "My workmates are used to me doing painting and encourage me."

Allan said he has no regrets about not taking up art full-time when he was younger.

He said: "Some people go through art school, get their degree and then do something completely different.

"I think I have learned more from being on my own, have learned from working on my art and have picked up wee bits here and there.

"I like my job with the council and have done it since I was 16. Now having four days on and four days off gives me more time to work on my art.

"It is almost like I switch off after doing my normal job and get into my art work.

"It would be nice to do it full time but then again, I would probably miss my other job.

"I have a lot of interaction with people when I am at work which is good.

"I get ideas when I am out walking about and seeing bits and pieces of architecture. The West End is good for that – it is good for inspiration.

"It is a nice place to work as there are interesting town houses and places like Ashton Lane.

"There are lots of wee nooks and crannies and lanes to work on."

In November, Allan will be displaying some of his work in Glasgow Print Studio in King Street.

He said: "I will be showing about a dozen etchings which are mostly of buildings in the West End."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk