Kieron Williamson - perhaps Britain's best and most talked-about young painter - is preparing for his next exhibition. The build-up, as a new BBC One programme shows, has its stresses for his family
When he was seven, in 2009, Kieron Williamson was lauded as the boy who “paints like an old master”. His exhibited works have been known to sell out in minutes, and his beautiful landscapes of North Norfolk, where he bought his family a house, are the subject of a waiting list for buyers.
© BBC One East
Now, at 14, he’s said to be worth £2 million. “Me and dad sometimes say ‘I wonder what I’d be doing if I hadn’t found painting,” he reflects, initially introducing himself as a football enthusiast and Leeds United fan.
“It’s pretty hard to imagine life without it. I can’t imagine myself without painting. I’m really, really happy that this has happened.”
The next stage in the lad’s career, according to a BBC One programme airing next week, is critical. The Williamsons, who have given a TV crew exclusive access to their home, are keen to keep their son’s feet on the ground as he changes from child creator to adult artist.
© Kieron Williamson
His father, Keith, ranks one of his responsibilities as getting Kieron up in the morning to paint, and another as buying and selling paintings. His mother, Michelle, describes the family as a “tight network”, and says their stress comes “all at the same time.”
2010, she remembers, was the year when “it all got stressful for us”. “Kieron had reached the VAT threshold so we were forced to put a business structure in place,” she says. They were reluctant limited company instigators, but felt they were the best guardians for boy and business.
“Pre-exhibition is a busy, stressful time, because there’s just so much to remember. We feel as if we’re growing into it. Keith and I haven’t trained to do this – it’s not our expertise at all – so you do feel as if you’re swimming up river.”
© BBC One East
The confluences are often where Keith and Kieron head, sometimes at three or four in the morning. “It’s just the buzz of it, getting up in the morning and finding inspiration, still,” says Kieron, surveying Morston Quay, a marshland within the Blakeney National Nature Reserve.
“On a grey day it is still nice. It’s got enough context in the landscape to make a painting, but equally it’s lovely on a bright, sunny day.
“The light on the mud: it just has everything you want as an artist. The estuary, the boats, the sky, it just has everything.
© BBC One East
“I don’t think I’ll ever run out of inspiration. You just see things all the time and think ‘that would make a nice picture.’ It’s the constant inspiration, I think, that keeps me going.
“You do lose yourself in periods of painting. I hardly ever think about where it’s gonna go or whether it’s going to sell or anything like that. It’s all about the moment in time.”
- The Making of a Master is on BBC One East at 7.30pm on September 9 2016 and on BBC iPlayer.
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Three places to see in North Norfolk
North Norfolk Railway, Sheringham
Working museum providing an insight into railway transport in East Anglia over the last 130 years or so. Trains run, as per timetable, between Sheringham and Holt - a distance of 5 1/4 miles.
Today, you can climb to the top of the towers to experience breathtaking views of this beautiful landscape, the North Norfolk coast and maybe a steam train passing through.
William Marriott Museum, Holt
Holt Station complex is being designed to represent a typical country station scene. The station itself is the original 1880 building from Stalham, rescued by volunteer railway personnel, lovingly re-erected on its present site.