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 1970s were characterized by a grid structure, taped and then painted and sprayed in acrylic on canvas. From the 1980s he developed towards a more intuitive use of oil paint on linen, stripes, and blocks, that sought to bring back metaphor and emotion into abstraction.