Life

Richard Young 1940s

Richard Young was born in Walton, Liverpool in 1921, the  the youngest son of Henry and Nelly Young. The family moved to Rotherhithe in 1923, where Dick first went to school. Ten years later were back in Liverpool where Richard attended school in Walton. By 1937, they had moved again – this time to Newcastle where Richard became an apprentice ship’s electrician.  In 1942 he joined the Merchant Navy as a ship’s radio operator.

By 1945, Young was back in Newcastle, working again as a ship’s electrician. By now he had started painting, and had joined the Wallsend Art Club. He attended classes and lectures and remembers weekend schools with occasional distinguished visiting tutors.  One early influence was Frank Hendriksen, who he later described, significantly, as a ‘robust Sickertian’.  In 1948 Young had his first exhibition at the Shipley Gallery.

When his father died in 1953, Richard returned with his mother to Walton, where he found work as a freelance electrician.  He and Nelly lived at several addresses before settling in Sandon Street, Bootle, in 1968.  Young soon became an established figure on the Liverpool arts scene, known to everyone as Dick.  By the late 1950s he was gaining recognition, with his first exhibition at the Liverpool Academy in 1955, followed two years later by having  ‘Morning Interior’, now in   the University collection, selected for the first John Moores exhibition. In 1966, the Walker Art Gallery bought Chandelier, followed by Interior with Figure in 1969.

Nelly, his mother and the subject of many of his paintings and drawings died in 1975, and soon after the Sandon Street home was threatened with demolition.  During this difficult time he was supported by friends on the art scene who found him a flat on Bedford Street in Liverpool 8.  From 1979 to 1982, he studied full-time at Liverpool College of Art, gaining a first class degree.

Richard Young 1987

Young’s local reputation grew through ’80s and ’90s, with exhibitions locally and elsewhere.  In 1991, he exhibited in the John Moores 18 Exhibition 18 and had 70th birthday exhibition at the Acorn Gallery. In 1992 Window, Marsh Lane, Bootle  was bought by Sefton Borough Council, while in the same period Self-Portrait and Large Interior were acquired by the Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead.

It was at the Williamson Art Gallery in 1994 that the major retrospective of his work – A Provincial Life – took place, drawing together over 80 paintings and drawings representing all stages of his career.

Richard Young died in 2003, at the age of 81.  Much of his distinctive drawing and painting style dealt with domestic scenes (often celebrating the quiet life of his mother Nelly), interiors (inside a room looking out through a window onto a nondescript Liverpool street) or captured moments in the lives of those on the art scene who were his friends.  Although he worked alone, he enjoyed the company of others in Liverpool’s art set in regular haunts such as The Crack, Peter Kavanagh’s, the Everyman Bistro and the Casablanca.

Richard Young Visionfest 1994

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