BRIAN Parker will never forget the day he was asked to look after David Hockney.

The year was 1969 and the Bradford-born artist - who was already enjoying success - was coming from his London home to attend the city’s first arts festival, where he was exhibiting.

“It was his first exhibition in Bradford, and his first retrospective of mostly etchings as well as some paintings,” says Brian, who was aged 19 to Hockney’s 32, and a student studying chemical engineering at the University of Bradford.

“I was exhibitions secretary and the festival director gave me the job of escorting him around.”

The pair met in the early afternoon. “We had fish and chips in a restaurant in Great Horton Road. One of Hockney’s former art tutors at Bradford College came along too. I remember it was sunny and we sat outside.

“I had been told to entertain Hockney. I knew he was gay and had talked about it on TV. I was a northern lad from Blackburn who had never met anyone like him.

“He had bleached blond hair which was pretty unusual in that part of the world at that time. I was naïve and out of my depth and suggested we go to a revue bar where drag queens were performing. I remember it being very loud, and the acts were not very sophisticated.”

Hockney and Brian got on well. “I think he was amused by me,” he laughs.

The famous artist even offered Brian the chance to buy a couple of his prints for around £250. “As a poor student I sadly could not afford one,” he says.

Now Brian is an artist himself, producing striking, colourful contemporary works that he sells at exhibitions and through galleries.

His paintings, which have a strong sense of pattern, are influenced by his background in science and also by his admiration for the world-famous artist he met all those years ago.

Brian’s interest in art began at an early age. “I loved drawing in particular, even as young as six,” he says. “I took the subject to O-level and I had to decide what to do afterwards.”

His other major interest was the sciences. “As a child I would carry out all sorts of experiments and read quite high level books on science. I remember creating the dye used in plasters when I was about 13.

“At about the same time my dad bought me some apparatus and I talked one of my teachers into ordering some big bottles of acid and ammonia so I could experiment.”

His decision made to go for the sciences, Brian went on to study chemical engineering, gaining a PhD.

During his first term at university, he spotted a notice asking for volunteers to help with an arts festival being organised by the university in conjunction with Bradford School of Art, where Hockney studied.

“I had only been there a couple of months and was adapting to being away from home,” he says. “I was not a member of any societies and thought it would be good experience.”

He enjoyed helping organise exhibitions, many of which were publicised in the Telegraph & Argus. “The T&A was very supportive and published a stream of articles about the festival.”

While a student Brian met Diane Bates, the internationally acclaimed textile artist, who taught at Bradford School of Art. “We went out for about five years and during that time I became very involved with the art college,” he says. Decades later, they are still friends.

After graduation Brian, who now lives in rural Essex, worked in a Government laboratory and later as an engineer at an adhesive company.

His life has had its ups and downs - during one period he suffered from alcoholism - but one thing was a constant: his love of art. “I had a dream that once I finished work I would return to university to study fine art,” he says. He retired 14 years ago and did just that.

At the age of 59 he took an access course and discovered a deep need to paint. He also noticed that when he painted, his scientific background came to the fore.

“As I painted I realised that I see outlines and edges rather than volumes and am particularly drawn to patterns.

“My style is to incorporate these influences, together with a powerful sense of colour and a strong desire to simplify.

“My approach to a painting is to include the absolute minimum of information and detail necessary to convey my personal view of the composition and to do so with the minimum palette of flat colours.”

He adds: “My science background has been a big influence - my work is analytical rather than emotional. I have a unique way of looking at the world.”

He progressed to the University of Essex where he began a degree in fine art.

“The feedback from the tutors was very good,” he says. “It made me realise that I was talented, and I began exhibiting within six months.”

After his first year, however, Brian left the course as he felt he was not gaining anything from it.

He joined an artists’ collective and began to exhibit, soon making a name for himself.

He paints in acrylic “It suits my style. You can get very flat, intense colour. Oil is smelly - you have to clean the brushes in paraffin.”

Each work - they include abstract, landscape and figurative - takes between six and 12 weeks to complete.

His influences are many and varied “although mainly at a subconscious level - they include David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield, Egon Schiele, Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth.”

Of his own paintings, Brian’s favourite is an image of his clothes hanging in his wardrobe, with shafts of sunlight streaming in. It is what he sees when he wakes up in the morning.

“I enjoy painting scenes within my home - the living room, bathroom and kitchen. Everything that surrounds me. And I also paint myself.

He speaks fondly of a picture called ‘Alive and well’ of himself nude, surrounded by his entire medical history in the form of letters, X-rays and medial paraphernalia.

“It has all the details of illnesses I have had and medical bills. I was 60 when I created it.”

Brian’s work has attracted a solid fan base, generating interest from people and collectors across the world. He has also painted commissions.

His series of forthcoming shows will be exhibiting a good selection of his work heading towards his first retrospective London show later in the year.

“I want people to come along and look at my work and go away pleased, saying to themselves ‘I have enjoyed looking at that.’”

He hopes to exhibit in the north of England and plans on capturing some northern views to paint, including a number in Bradford, when he visits friends in Yorkshire this summer.

Aside from art, his other passions are dance, singing and playing guitar.

“Being a dancer myself, I enjoy painting dancers and have produced many pictures of them - I like the shapes that bodies make,” he says.

Painting has given Brian a new career and a new life: he could not be more content. “I’m very happy in life,” he adds.

l Brian is exhibiting in his next show ‘The Journey So Far - It’s All About Me ’ at the Royal Opera Arcade (ROA) Gallery in Pall Mall, London, from October 7 to 12.

l For more information about Brian and details of his other exhibitions visit;