Stephen Conroy was born in Braeholm Hospital, Helensburgh in 1964, as were most babies being born to Vale parents at that time. However, his parents were from Renton and that was where Stephen was brought up. He attended St Martin's primary school and from there went on to St Patrick's High School, Dumbarton.
His father was a welder in the Clyde shipyards, and he too was a painter of prodigious talent who, if he had been born a generation later, would have gone to art school as his son did. Stephen has acknowledged that his art gene probably came from his father. His father's former colleagues in the yards have added their own testimony over the years. A favourite painting of his father was to do a mural on the inside wall of a shipyard bothy showing the foreman bursting in through the wall to discover a secret card school going on. Even at the time some were saying that the wall paintings should have been preserved, and the way things have turned out they would probably have been worth more than the yards.
Unlike his father, Stephen went on to Glasgow Art School (“GSA”) in 1982, graduated in 1986 and then spent another year in Postgraduate Studies, before leaving Art School in 1987. His exceptional talent was recognised while he was a student, and his work appeared in external exhibitions before he had finished at Art School.
From the outset he has concentrated on formal figure painting, often in an interior setting which relies on the use of light and shade to illuminate it, which is gives it the feel of an earlier era, perhaps even back to the Flemish school, in its treatment of light. His concentration on formal figure painting makes him an ideal portrait painter, although that remains a small part of his work.
From the outset he has exhibited widely both in solo exhibitions and also in some of the best known group exhibitions of the past 20 years. His solo and group exhibitions have taken his work to New York, Paris, Madrid, Aix-en-Provence, Johannesburg and Cape Town. In addition he accepts commissions for his work, although there can be a wait before he accepts a commission because he is so busy. Although A List celebrities queue for his paintings (if you spot a celeb in Aldi's in the Vale, they are probably killing time before their appointment with Stephen at his studio), most of his paintings go to the serious art collectors, or high profile art galleries. Amongst many other galleries, his paintings hang in Kelvingove, the National Galleries in both London and Edinburgh and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In 1998 he won the Grand Prize of HRH Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Nearer to home, at least in the title of the Exhibition, he was one of the Glasgow Boys who appeared in the New Glasgow Boys exhibition at the Fleming gallery in London, one of the most prestigious exhibitions of post-war Scottish art in 2003. The other artists were Stephen Barclay, Steven Campbell, Ken Currie, Peter Howson, and Adam Wisziewski.
In the last few years Stephen Conroy has developed an even more distinctive style, with many of his paintings containing a single figure, usually a brooding man, often seated, frequently dressed in black or dark clothes and the use of bright colour reduced to a minimum. .
Although Stephen no longer lives in Renton, he lives not far away, and “commutes” to his studio in Alexandria.