Cow is artist's moos
By David Kessen, The Star Monday, March 21, 2005
Pictures set Pete apart from the herd, but he loved painting Naz as well
Twenty years after leaving Doncaster to seek his fortune artist Pete Kilkenny is now regarded in southern Germany as being to cows what Monet was to water lillies and Van Gogh was to sunflowers. But he told David Kessen that it is his portraits of subjects including South Yorkshire’s former boxing champ Naseem Hamed that make him happiest.
He describes them as his Madonnas.
And over the last 12 months they have been selling like hot cakes among German art lovers who have taken tot he work of 43 year-old Doncaster painter Peter Kilkenny.
They are his paintings of cows.
The former McAuley School pupil has already had his works shown in exhibitions around the country, and his pictures have been dubbed Kilkenny’s Kühe – or Kilkenny’s Cows, in English in the German papers.
Last year they earned him around 14,000 euros (nearly £10,000) in sales as the paintings he has started to specialise in took off. The works have fetched up to 3,000 euros individually which is the equivalent of more than £2,000
It is a far cry from his upbringing in the shadow of Doncaster’s Hexthorpe railway works. Now he combines his successful painting with his own business.
he said: „Finding a motif is the key. Once found there is at last the freedom to paint. I paint cows like many artists before me the Madonna. „I’ve never been so excited about painting. The cow is mine. My Madonna“
„I work here and have my own tree-surgery business specialising in listed often ancient trees since 1991.
„I don’t plan to leave here in the near future, though I am very keen to get involved in the scene back home.
I painted portraits from the very beginning and some landscapes, though it’s the cows which have become an intensive theme for me in recent years arising from the fact that I live on a farm. They are the best models and live on my doorstep.“
His painting really has taken off over the last 12 months. He sold 21 paintings last year at exhibitions, art markets and fairs, and 20 of those were of cows.
But despite being hundreds of miles away, he misses home, particularly his brother and his sense of humour – and Doncaster Market, where he worked on a biscuit stall from the ages of 11 to 18.
Pete settled in Germany after a year (it was actually 3 years David! 1984 to 1987) travelling around the world, and now he works in a village between Munich and Salzburg as a tree surgeon when he is not painting.
Despite that, he is still keen to stay in touch with his Yorkshire roots. Raised at Windle Road, Hexthorpe, he went on to take a fine art degree at Newcastle Polythechnic.
He has always stayed close to his family back home in Hexthorpe, and would still love to do a show in his home town one day.
Despite the success of his cows, Pete says his real pleasure is painting portraits. Among his favourite works is one inspired by his native South Yorkshire, of former world boxing champion Naseem Hamed.
After hearing the boxer’s hero was Muhammed Ali, he decided to create a picture of both, and now says he would love to one day show it to the former champion.
He was keen to paint the boxer because his brother Mick, who still lives in Doncaster, was a successful amateur fighter himself. It was Mick who showed him a video of Naz.
He painted his 6ft high portrait oft he fighter in 2000 and regards it as one of his favourite works.
He said: „After watching a video oft he Sheffield start I was inspired by his sureness and his confidence to allow himself to joke with his opponents in the ring. Having read that his hero was Muhammed Ali I decided to paint them together.“
He is considering a portrait of Doncaster Rovers boss Dave Penney as his nect project, again inspired by the connection with home.
Pete moved abroad in 1984, finally settling in Germany in 1986, (it was 87 David!), where he lives in a farmhouse.
But he still takes an interest in his home town.
He said: „Many recent things to do with me, my life and my work are calling me back home. I am from Doncaster and as I follow the movement in the Art world I am aware that England is the most exciting place to be. My roots and my strong contact with my brother, who still lives in Hexthorpe, Doncaster, are urging me to enter the art scene back at base.“