Feature: ArtScene

ArtScene: Antigua and Hockney

By , Columnist

David Hockney, Woldgate Woods

ANTIGUA. I’m in hiding. Well, sort of. My agent’s calling me about a piece in the London Evening Standard that I’ve been approached to do the first portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge.  They say that they were taken with my portrait of Prince Michael in Kensington Palace and so I’m on the Maybe List for KM’s first likeness.

The Standard’s also quoted TMR about me having to learn to curtsy. For ten days I’m getting calls. Say nothing says my manager. Show some couth.  You mean I don’t normally? “Couth duckie, do couth.”

So doing couth, I’ve been keeping the low profile in Antigua. Almost. I’ve been taking it oh so easy in the fabulous Jolly Harbour villa on Palm Point of my very good friend Bob P and his fabulous wife Simone, while my Number One Fan (supposed to be writing an Antiguan thriller about a CIA-pursued artist) fielded the calls. One cutie reporter even pretended to be Kate herself. (CIA ploy? Surely not?)Fiona in Antigua.jpg

I had to come anyway to sign five big canvasses that having taken eighteen months to capture the people of this Caribbean tiara and to prepare for an exhibition in English Harbour next year.

The signing was brilliant. Bob P remembered the Krug, and Ronnie produced tins and tins of marshmallows - perfect signing lunch.  Palm Point may not be Paradise, but you can see it from here. I could also see the clock. The BA flight always gets me from Heaven to the Hell’s Kitchen that is London in January right on time.  How do they do that?

Hockney in London

Only one thing dragged me from Palm Point and the smartest white ketch anchored just off our beach: David Hockney’s’ monumental show at the RA in London. What a joy, what pleasure.

Hockney makes me happy. Outspoken, humorous, cutting intellect, great communicator, unafraid of change, grasping the latest technology and making it his own. Let’s hear it: Hockney is the most talented British artist of our time. Born in Bradford and forever grateful that he was taught in the days when you had to draw, not play with installations, he excels in this recent collection of monumental works, inspired by his home county of Yorkshire and seeing it all as if for the first time. 

The scale of the works alone are enough to exhaust a man half his 75 years. When he’s not in his studio I listen carefully to his outspoken but crafted criticisms of the British art scene and, basic freedoms, even the taboo subject of smoking.

Want to smoke? Do it as long as you don’t harm anyone - a good nineteenth century harm philosophy.  How refreshing I say.  Always said with warmth and humour and a good dose of common sense.  His Mum would be proud. We travel the world for inspiration, when what we need is right in front of us.  We only need the eyes to see. 

Last year it was Antigua for me. It was Yorkshire for Hockney? I feel insignificant. Hockney’s is big and better than brilliant.  A Master. So go and see and be inspired.  London’s Royal Academy: David Hockney A Bigger Picture January 21 to April 9, 2012. Miss this one and you’ll have missed something very, very special.

Now, does anybody know where I can buy Sobranie Black & Gold ciggies these days? Perfect with Krug.

ArtScene Quote

Always live in the ugliest house on the street - then you don't have to look at it. David Hockney

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Fiona Graham-Mackay, is London's newest royal portrait painter. She is also recently back from painting in the Pakistan-Afghan border. She studied at London's Royal College of Art, had a studio in Paris before returning to the UK to paint and teach in London, Spain and Italy. Her next assignments areā€¦

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