Wednesday 29 February 2012

A day in London

David Hockney: Three Trees near Thixendale, Winter 2007
 I've spent the day in London courtesy of ITV1, appearing as a guest on the Alan Titchmarsh Show to talk about snowdrops. It was a brief appearance, but all went well and the result can be watched online for the next month. While waiting (at length) in the green room it was a pleasure to catch up with Michael Perry, the New Product Development Manager from Thompson & Morgan, who I used to see quite frequently when I worked for Sahin in Holland, and to meet Matthew Pottage, Gardens Manager at Wisley with responsibility for most of the outdoor gardening there. We had a lively horticultural discussion, possibly disconcerting other guests for the show, but good fun.

Afterwards I went to the Royal Academy to see the David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture exhibition. This is mostly an extraordinary celebration of the artist's recent burst of work exploring the landscape, trees and woodlands of East Yorkshire, his native county, though he came from the West Riding. In his youth he attended a youth group run by my grandfather in Bradford and designed posters to advertise its meetings: alas, being ephemeral, they were torn down and not kept. I suspect that in later years, when he moved to California and turned his attention to naked youth cavorting in swimming pools, he would have earned grandpaternal disapproval, but I suspect these loving - if sometimes psychedelic - views of Yorkshire would have overturned that.

Hugh Johnson told me that the exhibition was 'life-changing' and in his Trad's Diary entry for 23 January he makes the point that with this work Hockney is observing 'humdrum' nature in a non-spectacular landscape, and bringing it very strikingly to urban eyes; "an old man with the eyes of a child is making nature mainstream." This is a big, powerful set of work: it needs time to digest and I must get back to see it again before it closes - and I recommend it very strongly to anyone in reach of Piccadilly.

David Hockney: The arrival of spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire, in 2011 (twenty-eleven). This is a massive painting: the rest of the work, a giant installation, consists of 51 further individual panels hung separately, each drawn from life on an Ipad - they are much more realistic than this wonderful fantasy wood.

1 comment:

  1. Dear John.
    Booo, as I live in Denmark I wasn´t able to see you on national TV, as your appearence, the online part, can only be watched within the UK! Would´ve loved to watch it and hear your great knowledge about Galanthus. Think Alan Titchmarsh is great too. Have some of his Garden books.
    Anyway, hope you enjoyed your stay in London.
    I once lived in Yorkshire for a month, and I don´t quite recall the nature like being like this painting of David Hockney (!), however, it really is an amazing piece of Art work. Extraordinary. Wish I could go and see it myself. Thanks for showing this jewel.
    Best regards, Fie.


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