Wednesday, 1 July 2009

1853 Gallery


I watched a fascinating programme about David Hockney last night, in the wonderful "Imagine" series on BBC. What so excites me about Hockney is that he is on a journey, exploring, experimenting, learning through his art. His work shifts and turns and yet retains some kind of core thread through all the different media and choices of subject matter over the years. His most recent paintings of the Yorkshire Wolds could be the most consummate works of his career.

The 1853 Gallery in Salts Mill houses the world's largest permanent collection of
David Hockney paintings, including some of his earliest work, photographic 'joiners', bright abstracts, portraits, prints and drawings and some of his more recent Yorkshire landscapes. It is one of several galleries in the Mill, one of which displays a collection of opera stage-sets by Hockney. The Gallery also has a beautiful collection of Bermantoft pottery.

The entrepreneur Jonathan Silver, who bought Salts Mill in 1987 as a disused and near-derelict building, was a friend of David Hockney. They both attended Bradford Grammar School, albeit several years apart. Apparently the schoolboy Silver first met Hockney, by then an established artist, when he asked him to design the cover of the school magazine. They developed a lifelong friendship. Jonathan Silver sadly died of cancer in 1997 but the Silver family still manage the Saltaire enterprise, with
continuing vision and commitment.

(According to the TV programme, Hockney started painting his Yorkshire paintings largely for Jonathan, because he wanted to be here when his friend was ill and wanted to cheer him up.)


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