You will read a text about four young artists. For questions 1-12 match the statements with the artists A-D.
YOUNG FUTURE TALENT
You might not know these names yet, but you soon will. From novelists and painters to actors, from singers to comedians, Senga McAllister talks fame and fortune with the young British talent heading your way.
A. Aida Seed, 32, painter.
Aidan is a precious talent. Artist in residence at London’s National Portrait Gallery, before that he spent two years enjoying the enviable title of Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge. Aidan tells me this post was open to writers, artists and composers, so it wasn’t only other painters he had to beat off in order to get it. He laughs. “There was no beating involved. I doubt I was the most talented artist who applied that year – I got lucky, that’s all. Someone liked my stuff.” Self-deprecation aside, the art world is buzzing about Aidan’s immense talent.
Aidan is proud of his working-class background. His mother, Pauline, who died when he was twelve, was a cleaner, and he grew up on a council state. “I didn’t have a toothbrush until I was eleven,” he tells me. “As soon as I had one, I used it to mix paint.” Pauline, a single parent, was too poor to buy him paints or canvas; he was forced to steal what materials he could from school. “I knew stealing was wrong, but painting was a compulsion for me – I had to do it, no matter what.”
B. Kerry Gatti, comedian.
The first thing Kerry tells me it that he’s a bloke, not a bird, though with his large frame and deep voice, I can see that for myself. His name, he says, has embarrassed him since childhood. “My mum thought it was a unisex name, like Hilary or Lesley – frankly, either of those would have been just as bad.” So why’s he never changed his name? “My Mum’d be hurt,” he explains. At the age of eight Kerry was part of a local programme for gifted children. “At the weekends I wanted to play football with my mates, but instead I had to go to workshops,” he says. “I absolutely hated it.” Kerry’s mother has never worked. His father was a security guard and they always lived on a tight budget. “My parents wanted me to go to university and study English literature, but there was no way I was doing that.” He left school at 16, only to return a year later when he realized unemployment wasn’t the dream of a perfect relaxing life he’d imagined it to be. “All right, so I gave in,” he laughs. “I went to university, but I didn’t do English literature, though I suppose there was quite a lot of it in my drama degree – but there was also stuff that left practical and real, which is what I loved about it.”
C. Pippa Dowd, 23, singer.
Pippa Dowd is Limited Sympathy’s lead singer. “Don’t ask me who we’re like,” he says tetchily, when I dare to open with this no doubt predictable question. “I don’t care if it’s bad for marketing to say we’re not like anyone else. We’re not. Listen to our album if you want to know what we’re like.” I already had, and plucked up the courage to tell the formidable Pippa that, in my humble opinion, Limited Sympathy’s music has some things in common with The Smiths, New Order, Prefab Sprout, and other bands of that ilk. “What ilk is that?” she asks. “You mean good bands? Yes, I hope we belong in the category of bands who produce good music.”
Raised in Bristol, Pippa has been trying to get her foot in the door of the music industry since the age of 16, when she dropped out of school. When the other members of the band met Pippa, they asked her to join their fledging band, which at the time was called Obelisk. “I didn’t want to be part of a band called that, and it turned out none of the girls were keen on it. One day I was bitching to them about my parents, who have never encouraged my music career. I told them my dad said to me when I was really broke that he had limited sympathy for me, because he believed I’d brought it on myself for choosing to pursue my unrealistic dreams instead of becoming a dull-as-ditchwater accountant like him. That phrase had stuck in my mind – “limited sympathy” – because it was so dishonest. What he really meant was that he had no sympathy at all, so why didn’t he say that? Anyway, I suggested it as a band name and the girls loved it.” A couple of months later, Limited Sympathy had a three-album deal.
D. Martha Wyers, 31, author.
Fiction writer Martha Wyers has more awards and accolades to her name than most people twice her age. These include the prestigious Kaveney Schmidt Award and the Albert Bennett short story prize. How many in total? I ask her, and she looks embarrassed. “I don’t know, maybe thirty?” she says, blushing. Now she’s branched out into full-length fiction, and her first novel, Ice on the Sun, was published in hardback last year by Picador, and is now out in paperback. “I suppose it’s a literary novel, but I hope it’s readable too,” Martha says. Born and brought up near Winchester, you might say that Martha was born with more than a silver spoon in her mouth. Her father is an investment banker, and Martha describes her mother as ‘an aristocrat who wouldn’t ever have had to work if she hadn’t wanted to’, though as it happens she always has and she now runs a Tai Chi school that she set up herself. The extensive ground of her family home are regularly used by touring companies for open-air productions of Shakespeare and opera. Martha’s mother is passionate about the arts, and always wanted her only daughter to do something creative.