Obama writes to Homerton artist praising his painting

Artist Kevin Gill at his studio in Leyton. Holding a letter from President Barack Obama sent in reco

Artist Kevin Gill at his studio in Leyton. Holding a letter from President Barack Obama sent in recognition of the painting he sent. - Credit: Archant

Kevin Gill’s latest painting looks a billion dollars – that’s the verdict of none other than Barack Obama, who sent the young Homerton artist a letter to express his approval.

The 'billion dollar' painting

The 'billion dollar' painting - Credit: Archant

Kevin, 20, took more than a year to paint the double-sided artwork, a “billion dollar bill” featuring presidents and US landmarks.

“It’s a positive piece about the coming together of history,” he told the Gazette. “It represents not just American unity, but international unity as well. The Statue of Liberty was actually a gift from France.”

Kevin, who lives in Staveley Close, doesn’t expect his correspondence with the president to go any further. “He’s probably quite busy at the moment,” he joked. “Maybe when he’s got a bit more time next year.”

The letter came after Kevin sent his painting to the US Embassy in London, which passed it onto the White House.

“My mum woke me up and said: ‘There’s a letter from America.’ I was surprised but mainly relieved as it had been four months without hearing anything.”

Obama said he was “moved” by Kevin’s generosity, and recognised his theme of unity, saying: “Though we come from different traditions and communities, I believe nations and individuals are stronger when they work together.”

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Now mentored by Hackney graffiti artist Stik, Kevin has been drawing since he was three. “I was humbled by his self-trained skill and the body of work he had produced at such a young age,” said Stik. “Since then he has made a couple of very smart moves and is en route to receiving the recognition he deserves.”

The two were connected through MP Meg Hillier, who said it was “fantastic” Kevin’s talent had been recognised. “I believe he is going to have a very promising career,” she added.