Manchester artist Geoffrey Key shows individuality

PUBLISHED: 12:53 28 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:49 20 February 2013

Geoffrey Key

Geoffrey Key

Manchester's Geoffrey Key is one of our most popular living artists. Siri Ellis finds out why.

GEOFFREY Key is a lucky man. He was lucky enough to visit an exhibition of his paintings in a high profile Hong Kong gallery and to stay in a beautiful, inspiring part of the countryside, where he met and 'made friends' with a tiny jewel-like green and yellow snake.

He was also lucky to discover, after his return to Manchester, that his new friend was a Bamboo Snake, one of the most poisonous in Asia. It could have been the end of him. Fortunately for him and his worldwide following, it wasn't and he lived to paint another day.

Born in Manchester in 1941 and with his father in Burma, Geoffrey spent a lot of time with his frustrated artist mother, who had a deep love of art.

When she said to Geoffrey 'Let's go to the pictures', she meant the City Art Gallery. They'd spend a lot of time sketching and drawing but when she caught Geoffrey tracing a picture from a comic she didn't speak to him for a week. It is surely no coincidence that Geoffrey has, ever since, had a powerful aversion to imitation of every kind and refuses to visit art galleries and exhibitions for fear that he will be, even sub-consciously, influenced by the paintings he sees.

'There's a lot of codswallop attached to art,' he said. 'No-one has the right to call themselves an artist. I'm a painter. It's like any other job. I couldn't make a wall or a piece of furniture. All I can do is paint. There's nothing special in that.'

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