My serial moving habit is something I’ve written about before. We’ve moved house (take a deep breath here) an embarrassing 12 times in the last 25 years and I’ve got a sneaking feeling that we might do it again one day.
But one of the places we lived when my children were small was Yorkshire, in a sweet redbrick cottage with horses that popped their heads over next door’s fence and views over the rolling fields. They were happy days – days that came flooding back to me last week when I pitched up at the glorious David Hockney exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.
Hockney is a Yorkshireman through and through. Now 74, he was born in Bradford, studied at Bradford Art College and seven years ago swapped the delights of sunny LA for life near Bridlington on the East Yorkshire coast. “On the road to nowhere,” he told Andrew Marr when the broadcaster visited him in Brid for BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week.
His new show, which includes oil paintings (many of them massive), charcoal drawings, sketchbooks, iPad paintings and short films, is a breathtaking tribute to the Yorkshire landscape.
Hockney loves to observe the same place at different times of the day and during different seasons of the year. One of the most stunning collections of paintings is his 2006 Woldgate Woods series – he placed his easel at a fixed point and returned to the same spot countless times to capture it. Another room is devoted to paintings of hawthorn blossom, while the largest gallery features The Arrival of Spring on Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (Twenty-Eleven), a huge installation made up of 32 oil paintings and 51 iPad drawings printed on paper.
The colour in many of his paintings is vibrant and bold, with purple roads winding through the countryside, stripey orange hayfields, violet tree trunks and turquoise hills. Some critics, including his own former art teacher, have found them “too garish,” but I adored them. Their zinging colours are a dramatic contrast to the more muted hues of his earlier work but bring the landscape he loves dazzlingly alive.
The tiniest details rekindled memories of our far-flung Yorkshire days. A small, red-roofed farmhouse sitting squarely in a field, a tunnel of trees near Kilham and handsome Salt’s Mill – all these and more were the perfect tonic to a chilly midwinter’s day.
David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture is at the Royal Academy of Arts till April 9 2012.