Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yorkshire : A Grand Canyon.

So ....we're standing listening to a Yorkshireman, in Yorkshire, as you do, and he's telling us an amusing story about David Hockney, Britain's greatest living artist (that's my opinion, but may very well be his too). Hockney, Bradford's most famous son, has forsaken some time ago the colouful life he has led in Los Angeles and returned to his native roots. Not to Bradford exactly, but to Bridlington on the coast, a few miles away, where he's painting away merrily, smoking like a chimney, and generally enjoying the rain and intermittent sun.

Anyway, there's to be a big retrospective in New York in the Autumn and Time Magazine decides to send its Art Correspondent to interview The Man. I have no idea who this poor hack is (Robert Hughes?) but on the phone Hockney gives him directions from downtown Manhattan to Bridlington, right the way to his front gate. With an added rider that if he is lost (in Bridlington) to ask anyone as everyone now knows exactly where he, and everyone else presumeably, lives.

Exhausted and not a little put out, the metropolitan scribe arrives huffing and puffing, plaintively asking (over restorative Yorkshire Tea and biscuits, or possibly a Dandelion and Burdock with a slice of Curd Tart) why anyone would possibly want to live in such a place, as "no sane man would ever want to visit here".

"Yes, I agree," Hockney replies, rather waspishly.

The interview is conducted, and at the end Hockney declares that the Mighty Hack must, while he is in town (he's not going to be rushing back after all) visit the Bridlington Arts Society Annual Show, a big deal around these parts. Slightly nonplussed, the Hack ambles down to the Town Hall and looks around. Hockney has told him there's even a 'Hockney' on show and sure enough, there is, by his elder sister Margaret, a gifted manipulator of scanned images and artist in her own right. The hack wanders around aimlessly and is joined by a local dignitary, either the Mayor or President of The Art Society, or both.

The Hack asks what it's all for.
"Well it's our annual show" The Dignitary beams proudly.
The Hack looks dismissively at the sea of amateur art before him.
"Yes but what's it for?"
"Well it's OUR SHOW." comes the rather frustrated reply."Don't you have them in America?"
Time Magazine's Mighty Hack says he has no idea, having possibly only spent time examining numbered Pollock drip paintings or Rothko's colorblock path to suicide. He leaves with a weary sigh, having wasted a good half hour of his valuable time, to start the journey back, a daunting prospect: strange taxis, trains, buses, planes. Instead of just a short cab ride from Columbus Circle to midtown.

In a subsequent telephone conversation with Hockney, the Dignitary mentions the visit, and suggests that in future David holds fire.
"Don't send another one of them, David. He were a right waste o' space"

We laugh politley at the vast chasms that exist in life, before The Yorkshireman asks us how long we're staying in the area.
"Just a few days" I answer and so he helpfully points towards some vague greenery, the hills and moor leading to Ilkley.
"You must go there," he urges, "It's fantastic. Great countryside. Only about seven miles. No problem. You just need stout shoes"
At which point my partner, who rarely strays north of Regent's Park, asks her first question of the day.
"Isn't there a taxi?"

After a small pause, we get our coats and leave.


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