Yorkshire’s favourite living artist, David Hockney, is very much in the news of late. Hockney, born in Bradford and educated in that city and at the Royal College of Art in London is now resident in Bridlington on the Yorkshire coast.
This year he has been honoured with a (literally) huge exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London called “David Hockney, RA: A Bigger Picture”. The exhibition spans 50 years and features large-scale paintings which were inspired by the landscape of East Yorkshire – one of Yorkshire’s many jewels, but lesser known perhaps than the North York Moors or the Yorkshire Dales. It also includes works involving the Yorkshire coast and Saltaire in Bradford (where Hockney has a permanent exhibition in the Salts Mill Gallery).
Hockney is known for his innovative approach to art and this Royal Academy exhibition demonstrates both his superlative technique and his openness to new ways of expressing himself. Several of his paintings are so big (up to 15 metres across) that they comprise multiple canvasses – other artworks are prints of pictures composed on his iPad.
Hockney is, perhaps, the quintessential multi-media artist: as well as paint, he uses still photography (including Polaroid), photocollage, fax and video cameras. Indeed, some of his films of the East Coast can be seen at this exhibition displayed on multiple screens simultaneously to provide an immersing and engrossing audio visual experience.
A “Turner Trail” was opened in 2010 linking around 70 places in Yorkshire that the artist JMW Turner visited and, in a similar vein, there will soon be an official “David Hockney Trail” for Yorkshire. This will enable residents and visitors to the county to see the source of the artist’s inspiration – from his birthplace in Bradford to the Yorkshire Wolds, close to where he has now made his home. The Trail will use the paintings featured in the Royal Academy exhibition as its theme – so we can expect places such as Saltaire, Warter, Thixendale, Garrowby Hill, Sledmere and Woldgate Woods to be highlighted. Once the David Hockney Trail has been officially opened don’t be surprised if “Hockney Country” takes its place besides “Herriot Country” and “Captain Cook Country” as one of the essentials for anyone visiting the county.
David Hockney, RA: A Bigger Picture is on until 9 April at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.
Tickets for the exhibition are available on a daily basis at the RA.
Tickets can also be booked in advance by phoning 0844 209 0051 or from the RA’s website – www.royalacademy.org.uk.