Artist tells of his brush with fame and fortune

David Hockney's old house goes up for sale as painter reveals day he found hidden treasures Lizzie Murphy IT is every painter's dream – to buy the house that inspired a world famous artist and find hidden treasures from their past.

Thirteen years ago Bradford painter Leslie Bell turned that dream into reality when he and his family moved into the house where David Hockney grew up.

But now the house in Hutton Terrace, Eccleshill, Bradford, which was the home of the Hockney family for 50 years, is on the property market again.

Mr Bell, 54, who moved there with his wife, Diane, and their two children in 1993, said: "We found the house before we knew David Hockney had lived there.

"We bought the house from his mother and finding out that it was David's childhood home reinforced the fact that we should buy it."

Bradford-born Hockney, one of a family of seven, moved into the four-bedroom home at the age of four.

At first, Mr Bell used Mr Hockney's old bedroom as his studio before turning it into a bedroom for his daughter.

As well as living in the same house and both being artists, their lives have also mirrored in other ways. Mr Bell grew up in the Ravenscliffe area, close to Hockney's house, and during the 1960s, he had a paper round, delivering to the Hockney family.

Both men also studied at Bradford College of art, Hockney during the 1950s and Mr Bell in the 1970s.

But Mr Bell, whose work ranges from Bradford landscapes to detailed pictures of city buildings to, more recently, sunflower pictures, said his work was very different to that of Hockney.

"He used quite loose brush work, these days and I am still quite precise," he said.

When the Bell family moved into the house, they inherited furniture and wooden picture frames from the Hockney family, which they have kept.

They also found a Bradford Grammar School exercise book containing drawings by Hockney at the age of 12, which Mr Bell has returned to the artist, even though he could have made a lot of money from it.

He said: "People said I was mad to give it back because it would be worth thousands, but I know if they were mine I'd want them back. I did the right thing."

Mr Bell kept in touch with the Hockney family after the move and Hockney's mother, Laura, invited him to three of her son's exhibitions.

His last contact with the family was two years ago when Hockney's younger brother, John, who lives in Australia, visited the house as part of his research for a life history.

Mr Bell said: "I have got all the deeds to the house going back to 1897 so I was able to help him with his research."

Now the house, which was bought for 42,000 in 1993 is on the market for 165,000 and Mr Bell hopes it will go to another family.

He said: "When we bought the house, Mrs Hockney said it had been a really good family home and wanted it to go to a family. It would be really good to be able to sell it on to another family who appreciates the house and its history as much as we do."

Mr Bell is planning to move to York to be near family and also to sell more work after finding it increasingly difficult to sell paintings in Bradford.

He said: "It's been an amazing house and I have learned so much about David Hockney and his family since living here, it will be sad to leave, but it's time to move on."