By Stephen Pullinger
Saturday, November 5, 2011
His mother is quick to tell you he is really just a normal boy who loves running around playing football.
However, the family’s solid new home in Ludham, near Great Yarmouth, is tangible proof that Kieron Williamson is far from ordinary – the nine-year-old art prodigy has paid for the £150,000 property with proceeds from the sale of his paintings.
The inspiration gained from moving to the Broads from North Norfolk in July is clear to see in some of the works that will go on show in Kieron’s latest exhibition at Holt’s Picturecraft Gallery which opens next Friday.
The 12 artworks, priced from about £1,000 to £15,000, include two views of St Benet’s Abbey, one in watercolour and one in pastel, a scene of Broadland mist and one of a boat tacking on the river near Thurne.
The gallery’s managing director, Adrian Hill, who has nurtured his talent since Kieron first took up a paintbrush at the age of six, said there had already been significant international interest with clients phoning and emailing from all over the world.
Five television crews, including three from Germany and France, are expected and clients are known to be travelling to Holt from Manchester and London.
The Ludham schoolboy’s last exhibition, in July 2010, saw 33 paintings sell for £150,000 in 30 minutes with a number of people – including a couple from South Africa and four from the US – camping in a queue outside for two nights to be sure of a painting.
Although he has been dubbed Mini Monet in some sections of the media, Mr Hill said Kieron’s extraordinary talent actually made him think of Picasso, who sold his first painting from a gallery, aged nine.
“He is unrivalled. There isn’t any other child out there who can paint as well in three different media –watercolour, oil and pastel. His grasp of the technical elements of working with them really is a wonderful thing,” said Mr Hill.
His mother, Michelle, 38, who gave up her job as a nutritionist to manage Kieron’s new company recalled how the whirlwind started while they were staying in a holiday cottage in Cornwall in May 2008.
She said: “We thought he had gone downstairs to watch television but in fact he had been working on a picture of a boat we had seen on a walk earlier that day. We were surprised how good it was.”
His father, Keith, 45, who became an art dealer when a foot injury ended his career as a builder, said: “When we got back home to Holt we showed Adrian what he had been doing and offered some advice. Kieron is such a sponge for information, within a week he had confidently progressed on to watercolour painting.”
Already a local celebrity, Kieron’s fame reached international proportions in July 2009 after he exhibited 12 pictures during the Holt festival. His mother recalled: “They were not supposed to be for sale but there was such a demand. However, how do you price a child’s work? In the end we asked for sealed bids and they sold for between £500 and £1,500.”
The couple, who also have a daughter Billie-Jo, seven, have since been bombarded with requests for interviews from countries as far afield as Hong Kong, Israel and the US. But the family have so far turned down these requests and try to keep life as normal as possible.
And his father said: “He already has his own house so if he decides he wants to do something completely different when he is older, at least he won’t have to worry about a mortgage.”