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Willy Russell: 'Seeing Better' - Paintings 2008–2017

Contemporary Chinese woodcuts from Heilongjiang

Contemporary Chinese woodcuts from PuErh, Yunnan

The Blue Tree, 2013, acrylic on board, 72x102cm

Willy Russell: 'Seeing Better' - Paintings 2008–2017

7th–18th November 2017, 10am–6pm, Monday–Friday

The Coningsby Gallery, 30 Tottenham Street, London W1T 4RJ

This autumn, for the first time, the work of painter Willy Russell will be shown in a London gallery. Widely known as a playwright, Willy Russell has never limited himself to this profession, he is also an accomplished musician, songwriter and novelist. But very different skills are required from a painter.

For the last 20 years, working quietly at home in Liverpool and Portugal, Russell has been attending classes, honing his skills, developing his ideas, experimenting with line and colour and form. Above all he says, ‘when rather late in life I began to try and paint and draw I had to start using my eyes much more, to try and learn to see as well as to look…I think for a large part of my life I used my ears first and eyes second’.

This exhibition of paintings, with works on canvas and paper, shows for the first time the world through Russell’s eyes. We see the world that he knows and loves and it may come as a surprise, that while the streets of Liverpool feature, his main focus is the English landscape. The landscape he got to know and love as a child on fishing trips with his father: rolling hills, wide Lancashire skies, fields of wheat, tracks and lanes with occasional glimpses of an industrial past. These are what attract and hold his attention.

Russell says, ‘If there is a purpose in the art I try to pursue then it’s in seeking to respond to joy’. What is obvious from the work is not just the joy he gets from looking at and being in the countryside – whether in England or Portugal – it is his joy in experimenting with paint, in mixing and using colour.

Here is a chance to see and understand another aspect of the life and work of Willy Russell who celebrates his 70th birthday this year. The exhibition is on for just two weeks.

A well illustrated catalogue produced by the Kirkby Gallery, Knowsley is available on request.

For information, catalogues and photographs contact Josie Reed on 07515 884206 or visit

A.P. McCoy

Mersey Bank, 2014, acrylic/mixed media on board, 70x89cm