David Hockney at Tate Britain

@Tate Britain’s David Hockney exhibition is in its last weeks.  It’s open until 29 May 2017 and has late night opening in the final weekend: Friday 26, Saturday 27, and Sunday 28 May 2017 until midnight and Monday 29 May 2017 until 21.00.  If you can find a way to go, it’s definitely worth the effort.  And, if you can find a moment that is less busy, that will be a blessing since it can be hard to move around and even harder to find space in front of the pieces you wish to view.

What an overwhelming and fabulous exhibition!  It’s probably not done to complain but there’s almost too much to see, too much of a good thing.  There are 12 rooms, spanning his whole life, showing how his art has evolved, using different media: oils, acrylics, drawing, painting, print, photography, video and iPad.  Unifying the whole is the question: how does the artist capture the real world in 2D?

There is pretty minimal interpretation in the rooms.  Even the AV guide, although very good, selects only one or two pieces in each room to discuss in any detail.  It does include audio and video clips of David Hockney discussing his work and that is very interesting especially when juxtaposed with the views of one of the curators on the same piece.

The first room is on the theme of “a play within a play”, demonstrating how Hockney has raised questions about picture-making and perspective across his career.  After that, the material is mostly presented chronologically, starting with his demonstrations of versatility in his early work and moving through the famous swimming pool pictures and portrayals of people in his life and places in his life, including the Yorkshire Wolds, to video pieces and art created and played back on iPads.

I appreciated the cleverness of the work in the first few rooms.  I thought the story behind the painting of the view of the Swiss Alps in Room 2 was amusing.  But the exhibition started to come alive for me in Room 4 with the pictures of California, exploring the straight lines of the buildings and quality of the bright light.

I could have stayed in Room 4 a long time but my companion reminded me there were eight more rooms to go!  I liked The Bigger Splash as well as Peter getting out of Nick’s Pool.  Hockney asks how you capture something that is constantly moving and has no surface, light on the pool and on the window, and gives a good answer in the picture.

Room 5 has some huge pieces, many portraits and paintings with people, including Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) from 1972 which I found very beautiful with its backdrop of lush vegetation.

Room 6 is like a respite – smaller drawings, created on Hockney’s travels, capturing a moment on the page – and then it’s on to Room 7 where we see how Hockney has used photographs, not just to capture people and scenes for later portrayal in oil or acrylic, but to create the pictures.  He takes photographs of multiple angles or snapshots across time and then lies them side by side to make up a multidimensional picture or takes close-ups of the different bits of the scene then reassembles the whole picture.  We really liked the Scrabble Game, showing multiple angles and capturing the passage of time in a still image, and Bolton Abbey, using the photographs to build up the collage.  Gregory Swimming, LA March 1982, is interesting because captured in the photographs are the same wavy interference patterns that he had previously portrayed in his paintings.

If I’d appreciated the art in the first rooms, I loved the last four rooms.

Room 9 shows paintings made in and of the Yorkshire Wolds, particularly of a road he drove again and again – The Road Across the Wolds and The Road up Garrowby Hill.  One painting, impossible to photograph, because it is a series of images from a long journey, all placed on the canvass, each mini scene seeming to form part of the whole but with its own perspective.

Room 10 contains paintings made after he moved back to Yorkshire for about 10 years from 2003.  They were painted en plein air with vibrant crazy colours.  Elderflower Blossom Kilham 2006 reminds me of my childhood.

Room 11 contains video art, The Four Seasons.  Hockney mounted 9 video cameras on a rig and drove it down a field in Yorkshire once in each of the four seasons.  On each wall in the small gallery, there is a group of 9 screens, each showing the film from one camera.  The films are synchronised so you can see a slightly different aspect of the view and you can see the same piece of road in each of the seasons.  The key to getting the most out of this work is to get into the centre of the room and look around the space.  It’s very special.  Spot the bird flying across summer, I think it was, and the snow falling from the trees in winter.

The final room is split into two.  The first has charcoal drawings of Yorkshire and then more paintings of his house in California.  The drawings of Yorkshire, The Arrival of Spring 2013, are a paean to the experience of seeing the countryside awakening to the Spring, an experience we can take for granted but which Hockney found he had missed while living in California.  They show five places at five moments between the first shoots and the verdant full blossoming.  Fabulous!

In the second half of the room we see the iPad art, shown on screens bigger than the original iPad.  What I had not realised was that the iPad not only becomes a canvas but it also records how a drawing or painting is made.  You can play back the creation of the piece, seeing how the artist paints, gradually building up the, and correcting, the image.  It was fascinating.

I really enjoyed the exhibition and only wish you a quiet moment to appreciate it fully.


Why am I blogging?

Never one simply to do something if I can agonise over it instead, I have been wondering why I am blogging.

You may think this is an odd thing to blog about.  It has something of the self-fulfilling prophecy about it – mmm, yes, let’s write a blog in order to talk about why we’re writing a blog!  At the same time, a lot of what I read about social media starts from an assertion that you need to know what you are trying to achieve, your objectives in engaging with social media – your “why”, if you will – in order to set out the right format and frequency and style.

So why am I blogging?

I’ve always said I want to write.  As friends and colleagues who are writers keep telling me: then, write!  Blogging feels like an easy way into the practice of writing.

I have something to say.  My thoughts and conversation interest my friends and often make them laugh.  So, why not spread the joy?

In February 2012, I moved to Australia to work for a few years.  This is an adventure that many people wish to experience.  I have some tips that might be helpful.  In addition, it is a way for my far-away friends to keep up with what I am up to.

This is a personal blog, collecting the eclectic experiences and interests of my life outside work.  It seems like a good way to explore the whole art of blogging.  It is about the practice of writing for a blog, how to tame all the ideas and yet engage in the discipline of writing regular blog entries without it taking over my life.  In addition, I’m using it to learn more about the technology available to me.  Then I can apply that to my professional blogging.  (Ooh, does it count towards my Continuing Professional Development?)

Those are the “fors”.  At the same time, there is so much stuff.  I might even say too much stuff.  There are Twitter feeds; Facebook entries; LinkedIn entries; blogs published daily, weekly, hourly; compendia of news; content marketing from consulting firms, news outlets, professional bodies; and so on and on.  I reel before the onslaught and pick and choose, deleting more than I read.

I’m adding to the noise. Is that a good idea?

I guess time will tell.  Do people read it?  Do I get any comments?  What do I learn?  Do the ideas dry up?  Do I enjoy it?

12 6 12 – a yearning for harmony

It’s one of those dates. Symmetry is on display: 12 6 12. Of course, it’s all manufactured by humans. And, yet, it makes me smile. I *like* the symmetry.

The progress of the planet around the sun and the turning of the planet as she goes: they are natural. The way we designate the number of the year and the month and even the day: they are manufactured-by-human, arbitrary.

Perhaps more significantly, this symmetry is available only to a subset of humankind. Only a proportion of us use that calendar and display it using Roman numerals in that way. Even readers in the US will look at this and wonder what I am talking about and come back to it in December.

So, the symmetry is not real. It is my perception that creates the symmetry. And yet I am ridiculously amused and pleased to see it.

That says more about my desire for harmony than about the universe’s propensity for harmony. Maybe it is a human desire for harmony. The key thing is not to impose my perception of what harmony is on other people. Oh, but look, here I am blogging about it!

This is what you get when you try to post once a day. Tell me what you think of today’s date and my blog.

Up With Which

Up With Which.

via Up With Which.

I think I have met my grammatical match!

This is the killer paragraph:

“It turns out that …“Put up with” is what’s called a “phrasal verb” — a verb phrase that includes more than one word and in which the auxiliary word is very often a preposition acting as an “adverbial particle.” In other words, although structurally, the words “up” and “with” here are prepositions, functionally they’re adverbs modifying the verb “put” and thus don’t really need to follow the old rule …”

Awesome.  ‘Night all.