HIS whole career has been in front of a canvas or sketching in a studio.

But 70-year-old Paul Bennett has never hosted his own exhibition – until now.

Paul’s work has always been in commercial art where he has painted everything from frozen peas to nuclear submarines for advertising agencies.

But after he retired he rediscovered his artistic flair when he saw the three Cunard Queens sail up the Mersey in 2015 which inspired him to paint for the sheer love of it, as he had done when he was younger.

Now Paul is hosting his first exhibition at CLK Art in Lymm.

He said: “To have my first exhibition at the tender age of 70 is something I’m really excited about.

“I’ve been an artist for more than 50 years and I’ve always drawn what other people want me to do to make a living.

“I’ve been through the mill. I had my own studio in the centre of Manchester but now I’m doing it for me.”

Paul’s exhibition is called Northern Soul and blends songs he grew up with in the 60s with memories of that era.

The Lymm resident used the song titles as a jumping off point to create 30 pieces with a link to his Salford and Stretford roots and bygone times.

Paul describes his distinct style as pencil drawing with a water colour ‘wash’.

He added: “There are so many evocative titles from the 60s like The Hollies’ He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother or The Beatles’ I Want To Hold Your Hand. It just fires things off in your mind.

“I try to draw it as I remember growing up in Gorse Hill in Stretford with all the terraced houses and stuff like that.

“Also in the 60s when I went to art college in Salford I remember all the dereliction and the demolition of houses – they just ripped the heart out of Salford. That’s very vivid in my mind so generally speaking most of my pictures are of old Salford or old Stretford

“I can remember playing on old bomb sites where cars had been dumped. It’s just an age that’s gone now.”

Paul, who met artist L S Lowry and got his signature while studying at Salford School of Art, also created board games for his children Joanna and Steven when they were young.

“I showed them to games manufacturers and they ended up taking them,” Paul said.

“Key to the Kingdom was a huge game that sold around the world and I made a game for the Christmas animated film The Snowman.

“I couldn’t do anything else. I was useless at mathematics. All I could do all my life was draw and design and luckily I’ve been able to pursue that all my working days.

“I’ve never worked a day in my life because it’s never seemed like work.

“Now at 70 I’m only at the start of my career as a ‘proper artist’. I’m so grateful for this opportunity.

“I draw for the love of it and it blows me away that people want to buy my pictures.

“It was the same when I used to see people taking my boardgames off the shelf to buy them. It’s mind-blowing.”

Paul Bennett will be making an appearance at his Northern Soul Exhibition at CLK Art in Eagle Brow, Lymm) on Thursday, November 15, from 7pm until 9pm. The exhibition runs until November 24