Early Work

Earliest Artistic Experiences



As an artist Peter Livesey is entirely self-taught.

His earliest experiences with Art at school were

variable, sometimes encouraging other times

disappointing. Once at the age of seven he

copied a picture of a naked man taken from an


He then thought it looked much better wearing

the uniform of a palace guard replete with a

busby, but, being ahead of his time, made

the unusual decision to leave exposed the

soldier’s genitalia. He proudly showed it to

his teacher. To his surprise she seemed alarmed.

The picture was confiscated.


Later that year, when the class was told to draw

an animal, Peter exhibited uncharacteristic

reticence. A visiting priest, inspecting the pupils

work was intrigued by Peter’s blank sheet of paper:

the finished work.

“But what have you drawn?” asked the priest.

“A rabbit!”

“But I don’t see any rabbit.”

“No. ’Cause it’s gone down the hole.”

Peter was again ahead of his time. This was

arguably the  very first piece of conceptual

art in history. The year was 1951.


At the age of ten he took up the challenge, head-to-head with the headmaster, to paint a portrait of a classmate. The headmaster generously claimed that Peter had won. With characteristic modesty, Peter thought the headmaster’s picture was much the better painting, but had to admit that his own was a better likeness. In 1954 just before moving to Grammar School the then Head of Art, who dressed outrageously for the time by daring to wear suede shoes and a cord jacket, made the progressive decision to invite models to pose in the nude for the boys. The boys were enthused but the Jesuits, who ran the school, were not. The teacher left and Art was deleted from the curriculum for the next eight years. This is arguably the origin of the frequently misquoted Jesuitical claim: “Give me a boy for the first seven years and I will show you the Man.”

None of Peter’s early works have survived.


Despite this rather unpromising start, Peter always retained his love of Art. During a five minute discussion about his future career, he said he wanted to be an artist. The response was swift: “You’d probably starve. Why don’t you do Medicine?” So he did. Peter, however, has no regrets. For over thirty years he has been a family doctor in Canterbury and has loved it. He is extremely grateful for his career guidance and to all his patients who helped educate him in life. As well as general practice he has held a variety of additional posts ranging from Wellcome Research Fellow at the University of Munich to Associate Regional Adviser to S.E.Thames and GP to Kent County Cricket Club. He has also had a life long interest in teaching and for many years has taught both postgraduate doctors and undergraduate students. For the last ten years of his medical career he was Honorary Senior Lecturer and GP Sub Dean for Guys, Kings and St Thomas’s Hospitals seconded to the Kent Institute of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Kent. He is now retired from Medicine.


He has also been a keen author of articles, books and verse for medical publications, illustrating his work with cartoons, and occasionally gives light-hearted talks on his life in general practice. Now his medical career is over he is once again turning his attention to painting. He has worked in a variety of media, oils, pencil, charcoal and pastel, but now concentrates entirely on watercolour, his favourite. His main subjects are populated townscapes, marine painting, landscapes and house portraits.