Tributes paid to talented painter Ken

artwork from Ken Watts, on show at Bede's World, Jarrow
artwork from Ken Watts, on show at Bede's World, Jarrow

MOURNERS today paid their last respects to a talented South Tyneside painter.

Ken Watts, 82, died after a lifetime of capturing local scenes in loving detail.

artwork from Ken Watts

artwork from Ken Watts

Born in London, Mr Watts moved to Jarrow in the late 1950s, finding work as a joiner.

But it was art that fired Mr Watts’s imagination, after developing a love of drawing as a child, and he soon started capturing street scenes in his adopted town.

Living in Park Road, Jarrow, Mr Watts created minutely detailed paintings of nearby streets, and became a familiar figure at the town’s Bede Gallery.

His work was later exhibited throughout the North East, and at London’s prestigious Serpentine Gallery.

As recently as February, Mr Watts’ work was put on display at Bede’s World, Jarrow, including a striking painting of the former mineral line signal box between Jarrow and Hebburn, and a study of the old Jarrow railway station.

Mr Watts, who leaves two sons, Laurence and Joseph, continued to pursue his passion for art in his later years, converting a room of his home in Hebburn Village into a makeshift studio. In 2007, he graduated with a first-class fine arts degree from Sunderland University, working with students decades younger than himself and experimenting with abstract art.

But many admirers of Mr Watts’ work still recall his representational street scenes of Jarrow with great affection.

His son, Joseph, 48, said: “My father drew and painted all his life and obtaining a fine arts degree at the age of 75 was one of the proudest moments of his life. He was still in the middle of his masters degree in art when he took ill.

“My dad loved all kinds of art and the books on his shelves reflect this – ranging from Leonardo Da Vinci to Van Gogh.

“Art was his main passion, and his life-force, and he admired anyone with a talent for art.”

Mr Watts, who was also a grandfather, died last week after spending some of his final months in South Tyneside District Hospital. His family is considering arranging a posthumous exhibition.

Twitter: @terrykelly16