At the end of May, I managed to get myself a ticket to visit
David Hockney's exhibition at the Tate Britain art gallery. These
days, art shows seem to have a super cult following and often
tickets are hard to come by. So I was excited to visit this show,
which is a major retrospective of his life's work.
"I Like To Live in the Now" David
Hockney's art and life go hand in hand. When you see his work
you are seeing a snapshot of his life and at the exhibition you can
really get a sense of the journey that he has taken over the last
When you hear the name Hockney you might think about his
polaroid montages, vivid landscapes or portraits. But you
might also think about his blond hair, stylish hat and jacket,
round glasses and artistic lifestyle. Both his art and lifestyle
are beautifully woven together like the brushstrokes in his
paintings. All these things have continuously drawn me back to his
work over the years.
"Its All About Looking" - David Hockney
At the start of my own art career whilst at University,
Hockney was one of my strongest influences. I loved the series of
work he did called 'Very New Paintings', which show curved shapes
and patterns looping around each other like surrealist landscapes.
This work came out of his involvement with the theatre, and it
inspired me to make make printed fabrics that I upholstered onto
Way back to my school days David Hockney has been there, and
he has kept inspiring me since, with his new ideas, optimistic and
vibrant colour pallets and innovations. For me he is the kind
of inspiration that makes you want more and makes me want to paint.
Pictured below is - Pearblossom Hwy, 11 - 18th April 1986, #2,
which I remember being on the wall at our school.
'Drawing makes you see things clearer,
and clearer and clearer still, until your eyes ache.'
Hockney's enduring message is that art is about looking at the
world around you. Recently, I went on trip down the river Nene in
Northamptonshire in a canal boat, and along the way made
photographs and produced drawings. As soon as I picked up the
pencil and started to look, make marks on paper, I was in the
moment and happy.
Stopping to look, really look, puts you in the present and
helps you to appreciate everything around you. So, I am totally in
agreement with David Hockney - looking is a great way to connect
with yourself and your surroundings.
The Yorkshire Wolds - A Bigger Picture.
In one of the rooms at the exhibition, on each of the four
walls is one of the most innovative ideas to come out of Hockney's
work in recent years. Nine cameras, mounted on a frame are
synchronised, to film the changing seasons in the Yorkshire
Each camera captures a different part of the landscape and
when combined encourage you to look in a different way at the scene
before you. On each wall in the gallery, the screens show a
different season of the same place. The beauty of nature beams out
the movies and the detail, combined with movement is like gentle
music for your eyes.
Looking at the World through Hockney's Eyes.
Visiting this show was a wonderful experience, because David
Hockney encapsulates for me, everything an artist should be. An
artist views the world with awe and delight and wants everybody
else to see what he or she is experiencing. I can't wait to see
what he does next.
Right, I am off to make my next series of work based on the
Nene River in Northamptonshire!
Scotland has always inspired artists, poets, historians and
writers. The monumental mountains, glens and vast lochs, all with
an abundance of wildlife and changeable weather are awe inspiring.
I have always wanted to make a trip, to experience this magnificent
country for myself and it was only this year I had the
We were based in the village of Taynuilt in Argyll and Bute
for the majority of our trip and spent lots of our time walking.
Our first visit was to Kerrera which is an island
in the Scottish Inner Hebrides, close to the town of Oban. The
island is known for the ruined Gylen Castle, a
small tower house built in 1582, which I photographed below.
Crossing the blue water, to the island on the ferry really felt
like an adventure.
May you have - Walls for the wind And a roof
for the rain, And drinks bedside the
Laughter to cheer you, And those you love
near you, And all that your heart may
The Sacred Isle.
The Island of Iona was definitely one the highlights of our
visit to Scotland. It is such a beautiful place, with deep blue
water, pink granite rocks on the beaches and fantastic views. The
little island is also steeped in history and is a place of
pilgrimage for Christians, who visit the abbey to worship or take a
retreat. (see below)
The Abbey was founded by Saint Columba after he arrived on
Iona, with 12 followers from Ireland in a wicker currach,
covered with leather. Of all the Dark Age Scottish saints, Columba
is the most spectacular: in 563 AD Columba left Ireland and settled
with the Gaels of Dál Riata, where he was granted the Island
of Iona to found his monastery.
The Irish monk converted most of pagan Scotland and northern
England to the Christian faith. Iona, became a centre of
outstanding learning and a sacred isle where the kings of Scotland,
Ireland and Norway were buried.
Celtic Cross Designs
Whilst staying on Iona, we had the chance to visit the
abbey. Outside the building in the grounds is St Martins stone
cross which dates to about 800AD. It displays intricate Celtic
snake and boss designs on one side and on the west
side Biblical scenes carved into the granite.
The highly dense, interlaced designs, also known as
'Insular' or Island art in Latin, were taken from several earlier
styles and was produced in the post-Roman period. Celtic
designs have always held a mysterious fascination to me as they
connect us to a rich cultural past. I decided to make my own design
using the words from the Celtic blessing at the top of this
The Iona Community
It was Easter when we visited Iona and we were really
fortunate to attend an evening and morning service during our
visit. We sang hymns amongst the lit candles and the old stone
walls and were able to get a rich sense of the place we were
visiting. A place with a long history of worship and
The Iona community was founded by George MacLeod in 1938. He
had the vision to rebuild the abbey with skilled craftsmen and
young trainee clergy in context of the despair and poverty of the
depression. Today the island has over 100 inhabitants, some from
established island families and some who are part of the Iona
community, both volunteers and staff. Visit the Iona Community website to find out
Our Top Ten Scottish Experiences.
1. The Island of Kerrera and
This was a fantastic walk that has got everything. The sea, the
views, the history and my favourite an old wrecked fishing
Falls and the Nevis Gorge. The sign when you start the walk
suggests adventure - 'danger of death', and the landscape was dark
and brooding in April. You feel the mountains closing in around you
and can see snow on the peaks. Amazing!
Sands and Dunstaffnage Castle. Ganavan beach is beautiful and
blue and on the day we went sunny and invigorating. The castle is
full of great history and there is a shop too.
The Hollow Mountain. This is a power station, that is 1km under
a mountain. You get a short tour inside, but will marvel at the
astonishing engineering of this cavern that is big enough to hold
the tower of London.
Smokhouse. We walked here from our accommodation
House and brought some kippers for our breakfast. They
were absolutely yummy -give it a go if you have the chance.
6. The Bridge Over the
Atlantic. There is beautiful arched stone bridge here that
joins Scotland with the Island of Seil. We had the best pint ever
in the pub here -'Tigh an Truish' translated from Gaelic ' House of
Gardens. Rhododendrons and azaleas galore! We were a bit
early for this, but go at the right time and it will be
8. The Falls of
Lora. The falls are generated when the tide level in the
Firth of Lorn drops below the level of the water in Loch
Castle, Loch Awe. A fantastic ruin and one not to miss. It was
a wet a rainy day when we visited, but that added to the
atmosphere. Built in the mid-1400s by Sir Colin
Campbell, 1st Lord of Glenorchy.
10. Island of
Mull. We took the ferry to Mull and drove across to get to
Iona. The views are breathtaking, and I loved taking photographs
and spotting wrecked fishing boats. You can also see seals and lots
of birds of prey, including eagles.