This week’s blog has been written by Jill Iredale, our Curator of Fine Arts. It’s the first in a series focussing on the up-coming Hockney Gallery at Cartwright Hall. She writes:
Last month I was at the Theatre Royal in York for a big Welcome to Yorkshire promotion event. I was there as the David Hockney Gallery at Cartwright Hall was being announced as one of the events for 2017. As I peered over the edge of the balcony at the little figures on stage I witnessed a feel good, positive promotion of Yorkshire, with a brass band playing and athletes and Kaiser Chiefs (amongst others) all talking about projects dear to their hearts. It all ended with a slick video of Yorkshire landmarks and events and exploding glittery bits. Wow. It all made quite an announcement.
Seeing an image of David Hockney projected several times larger than life onto the back of the stage was great; and also made clear to me THIS REALLY IS HAPPENING!
There are less than three months now until we open this new gallery display and I won’t lie, my experiences working on it have varied wildly from sometimes thinking ‘this is going to be amazing, I can’t wait for people to see this’ to ‘Oh my God we’ll never get all this done on time!’. That is the pressure I guess – David’s 80th birthday is a fixed date, 9 July, so there is no room for delaying and also the fact he will be 80 means he has been working 60 years and this is quite a lot to try and surmise in one gallery.
We have decided to focus on what seems an obvious fit to us – Bradford, and Bradford’s public art collection. So inside the gallery you will be able to see the sketches Hockney produced in the 1950s as he was learning to draw, which I think is really special – this is how it all started!
Come and look at what he drew and how accomplished, for example, he already was at drawing portraits at the age of sixteen. Some in Bradford may have seen these before but I hope that many more visitors from further afield will come to see, and every school child in the area will have the opportunity to come too.
Hockney never views himself as inspiring, or as setting an example, but I think it can only be good for our young people to see what a working class boy who grew up in the same city as them has achieved. If we can convey just one message I hope it is to inspire young people to put their minds to what they want to achieve.
Last year I took some of Bradford’s Hockney collection to be part of an exhibition at the MAC in Belfast. From it we discovered that students in higher education particularly engaged with Hockney’s Ipad drawings – I love that the art of a (nearly) 80 year old speaks directly to a 20 year old, and many were surprised to see that drawing and practising drawing were where he started. I hope many more come and see this in our gallery.
The other thing we learnt was that visitors to the exhibition at MAC Belfast were coming into the city specifically to see the show and spending an average of £70 while they were there. If our gallery can help contribute even a fraction of this to the local economy I will be pleased.
One thing even visitors from Bradford won’t yet have seen is inside two sketchbooks. We are currently raising funds to be able to case and digitise them to display in the gallery.
These notebooks, from when Hockney was at Bradford School of Art, show sketches of things Hockney was looking at; self-portraits and doodles. We need £1,400 to be able to do this. If you would like to help please donate online via the bradfordmuseums.org website; call 01274 43 1215 (Mon-Wed) or give to the donations box at Cartwright Hall. Thank you. More updates to follow …