by Stephen Pullinger, Broads Correspondent
Thursday, July 12, 2012
It seems astonishing that Kieron Williamson is preparing for the launch of a book about his career as an artist - at the age of nine.
However, the remarkable journey of a painter dubbed ‘Mini Monet’ means that two years ahead of his SATS he is already on the cusp of becoming a millionaire.
Kieron Williamson Coming to Light - The Remarkable Story of a Child’s Gift for Painting has been written by proud parents Michelle and Keith and conveys the impact on a very normal family of living with a child prodigy.
From the holiday in Cornwall in 2008 when Kieron caught the art bug, the book, which has one of his bold north Norfolk landscapes on the front cover, traces his whirwind progress from just a handful of lessons through to sell-out exhibitions and international acclaim.
Kieron, in every other way a typical, energetic pupil at Ludham Primary School, will be launching the work with book signings at the Picturecraft Gallery in Holt on July 20 and 21 and Jarrold’s in Cromer and Norwich the following Saturday.
To celebrate the transition from his early, naive work to the paintings of an accomplished artist critiqued by eminent art critics, the Picturecraft Gallery is also hosting a retrospective exhibition of his work from July 20 to August 8.
Mrs Williamson said: “We wanted to reduce the stress of a frantic crowd on the opening day so released 24 of the paintings for sale on Friday, June 29.
“They all sold within minutes with the two biggest paintings going for £34,950 and small pastels selling for between £6,000 and £7,000.
“In total, they made £250,000 and our accountant told us Kieron is now well on his way to his first million.”
There will be a further 10 paintings to buy at the exhibition which will display about 100 of Kieron’s works from the age of five up to the present.
Mr Williamson, an art dealer, said: “One painting that won’t be for sale is a study of the late reedcutter Eric Edwards who took us out on the marshes with him in February.”
Kieron has a passion for the history of art and the principal reason for moving to Ludham, buying a cottage with the proceeds of an earlier exhibition, is that it was the home of one of his artist heroes Edward Seago.
However, the family are now looking for another property close by to escape the glare of publicity and plan to covert their existing home into an art and antiques gallery.
Mrs Williamson said: “We got to Kieron’s July exhibition in 2010, when campers from the US set up tents outside the Picturecraft Gallery, and suddenly realised this situation was not going to go away. Before then, we had naively thought it would be a one minute wonder, but normal life did not return.”
Now looking after her son’s affairs full-time, she is routinely fielding calls and answering emails from journalists and television companies as far afield as Brazil, Japan, Russia and the US.
“We have had offers of exhibitions in London and invitations to visit from places all round the world,” she said.
Meanwhile Kieron, worshipped by his eight-year-old sister Billie-Jo - “She is in such awe of him, there is not a jealous bone in her body” - remains reassuringly grounded.
While painting most days, he also enjoys normal nine-year-old activities and is proud to be in the school football team.
Confessing his love for painting street scenes and landscapes he is also developing an interest in drawing figures and recently captured a man gathering seaweed at Winterton.
He said: “I would like to go to other countries to paint and experience different lights; I want to explore Norfolk, Cornwall and Scotland a bit more.”
Since moving to Ludham, he has grown to appreciate the Broads and St Benet’s Abbey appears in several of his works.