Playwright, screenwriter, singer-songwriter, author and now artist - Willy Russell really is the Renaissance man.

Now the world-famous wordsmith is painting pictures...without words.

"Another Aspect" is the first ever solo exhibition of Willy's paintings.

They will go on display at Kirkby Gallery in Knowsley next month.

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Willy surrounded by his art work at his first ever solo exhibition

I have been lucky to have seen some of Willy's early works in progress a few years ago. I even have a much treasured Christmas card with one of his early beautiful sketches.

Now, like the anticipation for any Russell first night in the theatre, I am looking forward to his latest artistic achievement.

Having discovered his talent for painting just over a decade ago, this collection of work will show a side to Willy that most people will not have seen before or even been aware of.

The result is a diverse set of landscape watercolours and acrylics and experimental semi-abstract works.

It reveals for the first time a wholly new aspect - thus the title - to the talents of the Whiston-born creative widely known for his stage and small screen and big screen works.

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His critically-acclaimed output includes Our Day Out, Dancing Thru' the Dark, Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine and Blood Brothers as well as the novel The Wrong Boy and his solo album Hoovering the Moon.

Willy’s decision to host his first ever solo art exhibition came about after working with Tina Ball and the team at Knowsley Council’s Kirkby Gallery, who curated another type of exhibition back in 2015.

He knew the time was right.

Willy Russell: Behind the Scenes, charted his writing career and highlighted his Knowsley roots and links through material taken from the extensive Russell Archive at Liverpool John Moores University.

Willy says: “Tina and her team did such a brilliant job with the Archive exhibition that when it came to exhibiting my art work, the idea of the Kirkby Gallery seemed just right and natural - although I had no idea if others would agree.

''Somewhat nervously I tentatively suggested it to Tina, who said: 'I’ve been wanting to ask you for ages!'

“We started discussing it in 2015 and since then I started painting like crazy.

''Kirkby Gallery is a really great space to exhibit, I love it.”

All of the locations depicted in the works on display are close to Willy’s heart – capturing places where he spends lots of time in Portugal, Herefordshire, mid-Wales and the West Yorkshire Moors.

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Willy explains: “Like most people who come fresh to painting, at first you want to represent what your eye is looking at. But you get to a point where you realise that you don’t need to do that.

''You get to a point where you want to represent something in you, and in the process become less bound by matters of accuracy, trying to get a building or a figure right – after all, who can ever say what is and is not ‘right’? ”

Willy’s is passionate about art. Having been told at school that he had no talent for painting, he only picked up a brush again when he was well into his fifties - he will be 70 in August.

Realising how much he enjoyed it, he signed up for tutor Peter Moore’s art classes at Hope University.

“I now spend a great deal of my time painting,” he says with a relaxed smile.

But he isn't turning off the word processor or putting the notepad away.

“Obviously I still spend a lot of time on writing and theatre, TV and film too.

"But if you were putting me away on a desert island and said: 'you can take either some paints and an easel, or an A4 pad and a pen' I know which one I would take,” he laughs.

Another Aspect opens on May 9, at Kirkby Gallery and runs until September 2, 2017.