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Hockney’s flowers

Paul Clarke takes a trip to Salts Mill and the new David Hockney show

Published on April 7th 2011.


Hockney’s flowers

SALTS Mill is a World Heritage Site and as befits such a magnificent building, it has had a relationship with David Hockney from the moment it reopened its doors.

The real draw is Hockney’s new show ‘Fresh Flowers’ which is a collection of pictures he draws on his iPad and sends out to friends every morning. Imagine how exciting it must be to turn on your iPhone and see a Hockney original pop up.

Yorkshire’s greatest artist has donated millions of quids worth of his art to this sprawling former mill in Saltaire. He’s a former Bradford Grammar boy, as was the late Jonathan Silver, who had the vision to rescue the building.

It’s slightly surreal wandering through the well-stocked art shop on the ground floor, looking at hugely significant pieces from Hockney’s stellar career next to cheap postcards. It’s a reminder that Hockey is not only a visionary but a technically gifted craftsman, as shown by his wonderful portraits of his muse Celia.

The real draw is Hockney’s new show ‘Fresh Flowers’ which is a collection of pictures he draws on his iPad and sends out to friends every morning. Imagine how exciting it must be to turn on your iPhone and see a Hockney original pop up.

Hockney has always been fascinated by new technology, buying one of the first colour photocopiers to produce cutting-edge montages before sending faxes across the globe to make yet more. It was a natural progression to the iPad and it is really amazing to see the quality of work a handheld computer can produce.

As the title of the new show suggests, some of the images - shown on three massive TV screens scattered across the spacious top gallery - are flowers and some are just sketches of Hockey’s daily life in California. But what unites them is the playfulness and informality of the work underpinned by his strong painterly technique.

As always, Hockney’s use of colour is utterly mesmerising, which is wonderfully illustrated by the clever layout of the screens where the pictures appear on a loop in different sequences. This is work of the very highest order by an artist in his seventies who shows no sign of losing his creative juices - perhaps a message for younger Tyke pretenders like Damien Hirst.

Add this thrilling show to one of the best book shops in Yorkshire and an upmarket café, and a trip to Salts Mill becomes a must do over the summer.

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