Us (pronounced uz) Yorkshire folk are unbelievably proud of the fact that the world’s greatest living artist has returned from California to live in Yorkshire and that his retrospective at the Royal Academy is dominated by scenes of Yorkshire. It’s barely credible. The queues to get in are immense and I’d have gladly spent an hour outside in the rain for my ticket, but I was treated by my cousin Nikki Mallows (nee Gresswell) who not only shares Hockney’s Yorkshire genes, but his artistic genes as well. I’m used to seeing Nikki’s work on the R.A.’s walls so it was no surprise that she had access to a secret stash of tickets and she whisked me in before giving me a Masterclass on Hockney’s life and work and art. She didn’t mind at all that a fair proportion of the crowd latched on to the fact that something special was going on and surreptitiously followed us, hanging on to her every word.
Hockney is of course fascinated by the tricks, techniques and artifices which have been practiced by his predecessors, as far back as the Renaissance. It’s a natural progression of that interest for him to use the latest technology in developing his own art. One of the best rooms in the retrospective shows films shot from 9 cameras mounted in 9 different places on a jeep as it travels very slowly through some of the scenes shown in his paintings. And some of those paintings were created on an iPad. Nikki showed me how to make an iPad Hockney using the “Brushes” app. Here’s one she did earlier. The creativity of these two great artists leaves me speechless.