Scully was born in Dublin, he moved with his family to London in 1949.. He studied first at Croydon College of Art, then at Newcastle University until 1972, when a fellowship took him to Harvard University. In 1975 he moved to the USA and has lived and worked in New York since then, spending summers in London. Scully’s paintings of the early 1970’s were characterised by a grid structure. Soaked and sprayed acrylic on canvas they were later to be replaced by hand-brushed oil paints and horizontal patterns of stripes.