The Guardian’s Patrick Barkham pays another visit to the Williamson family, Michelle and Keith, who are now all fully behind their son Kieron’s painting career:
Kieron is wearing shorts and a T-shirt saying “Goooal!” and is a week away from his 12th birthday. He is a perfectly ordinary boy – he loves being outdoors, playing football and riding his bike fast – and yet his talent for painting has made his family’s life rather extraordinary. The boy the tabloids call Mini Monet has just sold out his latest exhibition of 40 paintings, raising more than £400,000, and he is already a millionaire. A mailing list of 10,000 people crave a Williamson and buyers from New Zealand, Indonesia and Germany have visited his exhibition. The family car has a personalised numberplate, KW02 ART, and Kieron wants to tour Italy and buy a herd of cattle. “You’re a genius!” exclaims one visitor to the Picturecraft Galley in the small town of Holt, Norfolk, where Kieron holds all his exhibitions. Kieron’s extremely polite manner suggests he has heard it all before.
His paintings have probably changed more than he has. The pastels he once drew have been supplanted by mature, moody oils of figures in the landscape, influenced by Alfred Munnings and the Newlyn School, and Kieron uses a palette knife and smart techniques such as scoring winter branches with a cocktail stick on his oils. […]
Michelle is the director of Kieron’s company, which was set up in 2010, helped by a specialist children’s solicitor and accountant who ensure that his fortune is held in trust for when he comes of age. Keith, formerly an art dealer, now buys and sells art for Kieron’s company, and Kieron has an impressive collection, including more than 20 paintings by his hero, Edward Seago. Do they argue over what to buy? They glance at each other and smile. “Dad likes a wider range than me,” says Kieron diplomatically.
To have both parents employed by their newly 12-year-old son sounds challenging. “We worry constantly about people’s opinions and judgments,” admits Michelle. “A lot of people have a problem with the fact that Kieron pays us a wage.” But the alternative, they point out, is to employ someone else, who would probably demand a bigger salary.
Portrait of the artist as a young man (The Guardian)