We were in Bridlington last weekend. In as much as I’m from anywhere, I suppose Bridlington’s my home town. (We moved around a bit when I was growing up.) My parents still live there; it’s lovely to go up and stay by the sea; and David Hockney is now a resident.
I’ve yet to see the great man, but I’ve got a lot to thank him for. Since moving from L.A. David Hockney has put Brid on the map. Which is good for me because I now no longer have to explain – when people ask – where it is. I’ve had to do that a lot in the past; so much, in fact, that I got tired of it and told everyone I was from Scarborough instead. It’s near enough. And people seem to know where that is.
Of course, they now know where Brid is, thanks to David Hockney and his trees. His mother lived in the town and he was a frequent visitor when she was still alive; his brother lived up the road at Flamborough before moving back to West Yorkshire. But now, Britain’s greatest living artist lives by the sea on the Yorkshire coast in a previously little-known resort with a small harbour and a rather larger Augustinian Priory.
And he paints trees. Lots of trees. Big trees. Trees in leaf; trees in blossom; trees with branches bare and trees in autumn. I might not have seen him on my latest visit but I did see some rather nice trees. Here’s one of them.
Rather nice, don’t you think? Perhaps I should start painting them? On an iPad, maybe? Or maybe not. Although I have dabbled (here’s one I half-made earlier… can you tell what it is yet?) I’m no competition for the likes of Hockney. Or indeed, anyone. None of my paintings are headed straight for the Guggenheim Museum following a sell out exhibition at the Royal Academy.
But I can look. And – I have to say, having seen his trees – I do look at them differently. Of course, in Brid I can see the same trees he paints and that helps. I’ve seen them for years, and in all weathers. But the paintings, the video collages and the installations have shown me things I’d never seen before. It’s not quite seeing through someone else’s eyes but it is a bit like seeing with someone else’s brain.
They say that seeing is believing. And I believe the man’s a genius. I might not have seen him but I’ve seen his paintings and I’ve seen his trees and I’m now looking at things a little differently.
Thanks, Mr Hockney!