My favourite room: Richard Young Interiors by Diane Massey, Liverpool Daily Post October 13, 2001
The artist and one time electrician Richard Young moved into his garret in 1979. It wasn’t exactly salubrious then and, in the years that followed, the Victorian building which housed his flat was known as a drugs haunt and, at one time, as a brothel, picketed by outraged local mothers. Dick lived and painted through it all.
“It’s no longer a brothel, ” insists Dick. “It has had a colourful history – drugs, prostitutes – but it’s gone quiet now.” His favourite room is the studio where he’s painted many of his finest pictures. There are two of these in the Walker Art Gallery collection, three at the Williamson Art Gallery and one at Liverpool University.
Many more are in private collections all around Merseyside. There’s hardly an art collection worth a gramme of linseed oil which does not have a Dick Young.
Now 79 and a grand old man of northern painting, he says he just dabbles these days. There is an easel in the room topped by a blank canvas. His brushes are kept in an old jar, and his oil colours in a plastic bag. “Now and again I scratch away, scratch, scratch, scratch, ” he muses.
But more often than not, he’s out socialising or “growing old disgracefully” as he puts it, in his Liverpool Eight neighbourhood, drinking red wine in the afternoon with his model friend Janet or chewing the fat in the Magnet Bar with a character named Tommy the Brush.
Over the years people – usually young artists of both sexes – have camped down on the hardboard floor of the studio when they have been between flats. But Dick is on his own now and admits he doesn’t do much clearing up.
There’s a big table in the room crammed with working drawings, bills and books. There are still lifes and nudes, studies of the view from the back window, a brick wall which Dick has painted often.
He specialises in views from windows. From time to time, somebody enters the garret and buys something, although he says: “Most of the best pictures have gone now. I sold them.”
In the corner is one which hasn’t sold yet, a nude of his friend Janet who he has painted many times. The walls were cream, now smudged and nicotine stained with paint marks where Dick has tested his palette.
He has no plans to move, even if someone offered him a fortune for that one last painting. “No, I don’t think so, they’ll probably carry me out, ” he says cheerfully.
Until then, he’s truly living la vie boheme.
CAPTION(S): WORK OF ART: Dick Young in his garret studio Picture: Tony Kenwright