The Les Adrets Years 1998-2003

It’s February 1998 and Mike has just received a call from Eric Scott.

“Hey Mikey Boy, when are you coming to see me whacko?”

Mike had heard intermittently from Eric for over the past 4 years. Eric had been on a worldwide tour, ending up in Los Angeles for the previous 5 years, sporadically living in different places, one of them being Jack Nicolson’s house for a little while, whilst painting and enjoying life.

“Where are you El?” Mike asked..

“I’m in this sleepy little village in the South of France, close to Canny Cannes, I’m painting and looking after me boy, Beau, who is now 9 years of age, been here for the past few years”…

Although the Village was representative of all that is great about French culture and tradition, it also had a sprinkling of glamorous residents too. There were two main residential parks close by; the Domaine de Seguret and the Park Residential Esterel. Private, gated communities with multi million pound villas. It was a strange melange, with these two different communities living side by side, all coming together socialising at Chez Pierre’s and also at Chez Alain and Giselle’s situated down by the Eglise at the Bar Esterel. This was the other part of the Village, a bit further down into the Esterel Valley, and a favourite again with the locals. The setting was magnificent, with stunning views across the Valley and an outside terrace, a jukebox and a pool table. Alain and Giselle were amazing hosts and Eric, Mike, Joe and Beau would spend many great nights in their company.

One of the Village’s most respected residents was Dave Stewart who occasionally lived in the Esterel at his holiday retreat. Eric and Dave had been friends since sharing time whilst at college in their native North East, and Dave would make regular visits to his home to relax, write music, record tracks and always find time to meet up with Eric. In the fall of 1998, Robbie Williams was visiting Dave’s and he paid a visit to Eric’s to look at some of his paintings. Eric had received some of Mike’s work too, in preparation for the opening of the gallery, and after spending the afternoon viewing the artwork Robbie proceeded to buy a number of paintings – a significant number! A chance meeting resulting in one of Eric and Mike’s best ever sales, and meant that the schedule for finishing the gallery could get some sort of regularity to it. The phone call that Eric gave Mike that evening after the sale is etched in their respective folklores. Eric also agreed to design some new tattoos for Robbie as part of the deal.

The gallery’s works accelerated at pace and Eric had ideas for different coloured rooms – White, Red and Blue. Vic and his team got creative and the gallery space was nearing completion by the spring of 1999.

Joe had made another two visits to see Eric and Beau in the New Year and spring of 1999 and there were loose discussions with Eric about Joe coming out to manage the gallery going forward. Joe was a semi-professional footballer at the time and still fit as he entered his 31 st year, envisaging another 4 years of playing time at least. He was also finishing his teaching degree that summer. The timing wasn’t quite right for him to pack up playing. This all changed when he suffered a career threatening injury at the end of that season in May, and rather than undergo another surgery and a year out of the game, he decided to take up Eric and his dad’s offer. Using some saved money, he bought an old ford transit loaded it up with all that he owned of any significance and he was off to the South of France. Not afraid of taking a chance, as he travelled the autoroute de Soleil, a new chapter in his life was about to begin. He’d always had a passion for the arts, film and music. He’d been a DJ in his time through the late 1980’s and through his time at University, playing an eclectic mix of music from old funk, deep house and Balearic influenced tunes, resident at pubs in his local area. He had a bit of a following too. He admired his dad’s paintings and artistic talent and view of life, and he saw this as a chance to become something other than a one dimensional ‘sportsman’. He would often spend time with his dad when he painted in his studio late at night, after training as a footballer or spend weekend nights with him and Barabara, so he was becoming more and more attached to the stories in his dad’s paintings. He had no real formal education in the arts, but being the son of an artist was that really necessary? Surely a life lived so close and immersed in what his dad did was a good enough start.

He thought so. Mike’s artistic career had been undergoing a real resurgence since 1997, as he had been offered a one man show with Whitford Fine Art in Jermyn Street, to be ready for the summer of 1998, and Joe was often asked for his opinions on his dad’s latest creation. Mike loved this – to share his ideas and get feedback from his son was really very special. He valued Joe’s thoughts and often commented that he knew more than the so called critics he’d had to suffer over the years. Mike was never one for being an ‘elitist’, his paintings on the face of it appeared quite simple, but as Joe recognised, there was always some sort of surprise in terms of composition, the characters, the feelings evoked and the musical references used to title his works. There was a clear ‘father and son’ symbiotic relationship that was developing between them. Joe would often photograph Mike and has many references from these times.

Joe's photo of Mike in the studio late at night 1997

So as Joe arrived in the village in September 1999, so began a wonderful chapter in his life.