Top artist in search for an apprentice

A RENOWNED North-East artist is to follow in the footsteps of business magnate Sir Alan Sugar by launching a search for an apprentice.

Alexander Millar

A RENOWNED North-East artist is to follow in the footsteps of business magnate Sir Alan Sugar by launching a search for an apprentice.

Alexander Millar, best known for his Gadgie paintings depicting the people of Tyneside, will give one-to-one tuition to the artist that impresses him most at an open gallery event next Wednesday at Newcastle’s Biscuit Factory.

Anyone is eligible to become Mr Millar’s apprentice, whether they are young or old, highly-trained or entirely self-taught.

The chosen painter will spend time painting alongside Mr Millar in his studio and will work towards producing a body of work with the benefit of his expert teaching.

As a further incentive, Washington Green, the largest fine art publisher in Britain and representatives of Mr Millar, have agreed to exhibit the winner’s work in 200 galleries across the UK.

Mr Millar, 47, said he was excited about offering a route into the business for those that may have lacked the belief to approach galleries themselves.

He said: “I have been so impressed by the amount of talent in the North-East and thought it would be nice to do something to help. Ideally, I want to give someone the opportunity I had.

“I’m very fortunate to be in this position and there’s bound to be some other artists who are too shy or self-critical to put themselves forward. It’s quite a daunting thing approaching a gallery.”

Born near Kilmarnock in Scotland, Mr Millar has lived in Newcastle for 25 years and is entirely self-taught. Sales of his paintings have recently boomed, although his success has been hard-earned.

Having himself entered the profession through an untypical route, he was exposed to an unpleasant side of the art world with the potential to discourage budding talents. “There is a great deal of snobbery,” he said. “‘Where did you train?’ would always be the question and I really think there’s a huge amount of talent out there and that those people should have the chance despite all the snobbery involved in the art scene. This really is the chance of a lifetime. It is essentially a fast track into making a career out of art. It’s open to anybody, whether they are trained or not. Me and a panel of judges will narrow the contenders down to about six and then choose a winner.”

Prospective apprentices are being asked to bring one painting to the Biscuit Factory on Wednesday, November 28. The gallery will be open from 5pm to 10pm.


ALEXANDER Millar was born in Springside, on the west coast of Scotland, in 1960.

Having left school in 1976, he moved to Newcastle where he became fascinated with the local characters who were to become his “Gadgies”.

After a number of different jobs, he became a professional artist in 1988, despite never having received any professional teaching.

He had a number of sell-out exhibitions before one of his paintings was entered in the Daily Mail’s Not the Turner Prize. From a pool of 10,000 entries, his work was chosen as one of the finalists and exhibited at London’s Mall Galleries.

He is known for creating solitary figures in his work and over the past two years sales of his paintings have risen dramatically.


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