A portrait of the artist

Adam King talks to Catherine Scott about what inspired him to become an artist.

Adam King
Adam King

Adam King was just nine years old when he starting painting in oils.

“We had gone for dinner at a family friend and I was given some oil paints and told to go and paint a picture. I just loved it,” says Adam, 50.

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“I loved the fluidity and freedom to move it about and create an image that wasn’t as restricting as pastels or water colours.”
Now the award-winning artist splits his time between his studio in Scarborough and Harrogate Art College where he is a lecturer.

“I wasn’t really interested in academic subjects when I was at school,” says Adam, who attended Bootham School in York.

“I was more interested in painting and drawing and creating things. I knew very early on that was what I wanted to do.”

Adam admits that it has been a hard journey to be come a successful artist.

“When you are younger you have to do other jobs in order to survive.

After school he did a Fine Art course at Harrogate Art College before doing a degree in Fine Art at Leeds Metropolitan University.

He also has an MA in Fine Art from York St John’s University and a PGCE.

Prior to working in education, he ran art galleries in Bath and Harrogate.

In 2004, he became artist in residence at Knaresborough Castle and in 2005-6, as artist in residence at York Minster, he mapped the only surviving Medieval draughtsman’s floor in the Minster, and developed the process of making prints from inscriptions in a plaster floor in his own work.

“I have been lucky to get these residencies, it really helps to establish you as an artist,” says Adam, whose work is often inspired by the building around him.

He believes this love of architecture comes from his grandfather, RAH Livett, who designed all the housing on the Quarry Hill Estate in Leeds.

“He was a reformist,” says Adam who says a lot of his work now is inspired by Scarborough in a bygone age and led to one of his paintings being included in the Royal Academy of Arts summer exhibition.

As well as splitting his time between working in his studio and teaching in Harrogate, Adam has joined the committee of Art for Youth North which organises an art exhibition to raise money for UK Youth.

“At first I was just an exhibiter,” explains Adam. “But I thought it was such a fantastic thing that I wanted to do more to help.”

Since 2001, Art for Youth North has taken place every two years in Yorkshire and has already raised around £150,000 to help young people across the UK.

Show prices range from £45 to £3,000 with artists donating 33 per cent of sales to UK Youth.

Mystery postcard pictures priced at £45 each are also on sale.

“I have a lot of experience in hanging paintings and I thought I could use my experience to help them.”

UK Youth reaches 693,000 young people every year through the largest network of youth clubs and projects in the UK.

They support young people through a range of innovative programmes to gain life-skills that build confidence, resilience and make them more employable.

With almost a million under 25s unemployed today, UK Youth’s work 
has never been more important.

UK Youth enables young people to develop the tools they need for life, work and a better future. www.ukyouth.org.

Art for Youth North takes place at Queen Mary’s School, Thirsk next week. The show, sponsored by investment managers JM Finn & Co, raises funds for the national youth charity – UK Youth. Tickets for the Private View (6.30pm - 9.30pm on Wednesday, October 22) are £12 in adavance and £15 at the door (includes wine and canapés). Public view from 10am–3pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (October 23-25)

n www.artforyouthnorth.co.uk.