Andrew Marr interviews David Hockney about his exhibition A Bigger Picture, housed at the Royal Academy and made up of recent works depicting the landscape of his native Yorkshire.
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'A winter's morning.
'Bridlington, on the Yorkshire coast.
'I'm waiting like a grumpy fisherman
'to catch something mundane, but miraculous... The sunrise.
'Down the other end of the beach is another man who isn't asleep.
'He'll be peering through his bedroom window, already at work, because he always is.'
I might be anywhere in the world, doing anything, waiting to do some filming
and there's little ping and, in the inbox of my phone or my iPad,
there is a present. And the present might be some freshly-cut flowers,
a bottle of wine on a table,
it might be the sun coming up over the sea,
it might be a misty mountain in California.
In each case, it's a glowing little drawing, by David Hockney.
'I've been drawing all my life and, recently, after Hockney's tip-off,
'mostly on an electronic tablet.'
One of the things that Hockney gives you is,
there's absolutely no way in a normal day that you'd get up
at sort of 7:30 in the morning and just go and stand
and stare at a completely cloudy
and, initially, colourless sea and just watch the sun come up.
And it's absolutely fantastic. It's wonderful.
It's just about looking, you know?
The harder you look, the more you see, and the more you get back.
# Well, I insist that everybody twists!
# Come on, everybody let's twist Hey, hey!
# Come on, everybody, let's twist Well-ah, well-ah, well-ah!
# Everybody, everybody Everybody, everybody's
# Doin' the twist, yeah! #
When art went pop in the '60s, David Hockney was there...
if not actually doing the twist.
# Twist around the clock! Around the clock. #
'Now, he has been voted Britain's Most Influential Living Painter
'and he seems to have attained the status of "national treasure".'
SMATTERING OF APPLAUSE
You've got it, yeah.
Thought Hockney was born in Bradford, he's been best known for escaping to California and painting
-the swimming pool paradise he found there.
In the '60s and '70s, he was the golden boy of a hedonistic art world
in LA and London. He was openly gay and massively successful.
But he never stood still. His work embraced stage design,
portraits, photo-collages, prints and even faxes.
Even so, the work which is now being hung in London isn't something
He's been painting landscapes of his native East Yorkshire,
a genre that is out of fashion for a place whose quiet beauty
seems to have almost escaped notice.
Not any more, though, because these places, in vivid colour
and heroic scale, on canvas and in multi-screen films,
have taken over all 13 galleries of the Royal Academy -
an unprecedented honour and spectacular climax to Hockney's career.
I went to Bridlington to interview him for the radio...
and I was reminded how fascinated he is by new ways of picture making.
In a way, you can't destroy the drawings, either,
because it's not a real surface.
I also got more than just a fine sunrise.
Textures. Marvellous textures.
A sneak preview of the films he is now making, which seem to prove
his passionate attachment to this very English landscape.
First, I wanted to talk about the paintings,
which show that Hockney has returned to England and made a part of it very much his own.
Hockney has come home.
This is a picture
of England, of a particular part of England, obviously.
Most of these paintings are of East Yorkshire and Bridlington,
where you've been for seven years now, painting. But you seem to me to be making
statements about what matters to you about England.
This is not part of the heavily signed,
over developed England of the South.
Well, remember I've lived out of England for 30 years,
but I've always been coming here,
because my mother lived here.
Erm, I spent 30 Christmases in Bridlington.
So I was always coming in.
And in the winter, I never stayed long,
because I always thought it was too dark and too cold.
Not enough light.
But it was only when I thought I'd found a subject
that I then decided, "Well, I'll stay a bit longer."
That subject was the surrounding countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.
Just let me ask you a little bit, about the landscape, David,
because this is a landscape you've known, one way or another, all your life,
but it's only in the last six, seven years that you've really lived in it full time.
Um, yeah, I mean, I've known it since early teens, actually.
I worked on a farm not that far away. I cycled round here for two summers,
But you get to know it, and you know it's hilly if you're cycling.
-You feel it, yes.
But I was always attracted to it. I always thought it had a space
that was, I thought, attractive.
Local place names, like Thixendale, Woldgate
and Bugthorpe have come to dominate the walls of the Royal Academy.
It's all been carefully planned,
by Hockney, the expert set designer,
who's built a model of the entire show,
back in his studio in Bridlington.
Can you give us a little tour of the exhibition?
Well, erm, you, kind of, come in here and there's four paintings -
Three Trees Near Thixendale,
in the spring, summer, autumn and winter.
And you then turn here. Here's the only room with old work.
I kept telling them, "Not so many old pictures, let's have new".
I mean, it's not a retrospective exhibition.
I mean, mostly it's very new work.
And I knew perfectly well they wouldn't give many artists that
opportunity when they don't know what the new work is going to be like,
but I think we rose to the occasion.
'The scale of the work is striking.
'He's not just painting Yorkshire, he's painting it big.'
It's called A Bigger Picture, which I'm well aware means a few things.
That people need a bigger picture, so they can see things, don't they?
A bigger perspective, a wider perspective?
A wider perspective...
Let's be... You must also be conscious that,
by doing something like this in the Royal Academy,
you are putting yourself up against the greatest English landscape painters ever,
who have done the same sort of thing.
These are the rooms in which the Constables and the Turners hung.
They were never offered all this room, on their own.
-So you're... This is a conscious...
-Yeah, I'll take them on, OK.
If it was that kind of competition,
Hockney's already ahead of the game.
Constable struggled all his life to gain recognition for his landscapes
and it took him years to be elected to the Royal Academy.
One of the last works to be unpacked is the poster image
of the entire Bigger Picture show.
The strikingly-coloured Winter Timber arrives,
as 15 separate canvases.
-These are the best rooms in London for paintings.
They're just going to put this up.
So, David they're going to... They're just working out the height.
Then they'll hold up the bottom two canvases and we can look and see if the balance works.
And we can go down there and look, yeah.
I was looking at the, you know, the component canvases,
-and it's remarkable how many of them work separately as pictures.
-Just by themselves.
-There's a wonderful piece of, almost, abstract painting.
I mean, well, everything is abstract, in a way, I mean, on a flat surface.
-Yes. These. These work beautifully, don't they?
When they said the landscape genre's finished, you can't do anything.
It can't be true of nature and the landscape, it's only our way
of looking at it that's finished, that's boring or something.
So, get a new way.
Well, we did with cameras, we did it here, with making them bigger.
You can work bigger outside. I can do that, I like doing that.
I mean, not every artist wants to do that. Some do that.
Erm, I've always liked that.
You know, the thing about the big pictures,
the problems are mainly because they're big.
You know, in Brid, we have a wall where we just clip them on,
so you can move them about.
And it's a technical problem solved for painting very, very
And, uh, somehow, I think, painting should be bigger.
Scale, I mean, that's what I'm saying here, scale is important.
You begin to... You're aware, more aware, you're looking.
-You're inside something, rather than just standing away from it?
The European idea and the Chinese idea were different.
The Chinese idea of the landscape was you walking through it,
the scroll was you moved through it.
The European idea was a window.
You are fixed point, which is what the camera is, isn't it?
You are inhabiting some of the grandest,
biggest rooms - all of the rooms - of the Royal Academy,
which is a very rare thing for any living artist to do.
It's unusual for somebody to take up the whole Academy.
Mind you, I did find a great quote. I was in San Francisco recently,
they had a terrific Picasso show, on loan from Paris.
And there was a quote in it, "Give me a museum and I'll fill it."
I loved it and thought, "Well, give me the Royal Academy and I'll fill it."
'He's become increasingly prolific over the past 10-15 years,
'and that's partly to do with getting older and knowing'
the work that he still wants to make and having that sense of urgency.
But they're not just knocked off.
I mean, he is working seven days a week, from first light until dusk.
He wakes up at 4:30 in the morning, or 5:30 in the morning,
and he'll see the light coming through the window and a vase
of flowers there and he'll take out his iPad and he'll be making
a picture, which he'll send to his friends an hour later.
He's always had that work ethic and that sense of urgency about making art.
So, it's also a question of a lifetime of experience.
The way he can paint now, the skill and the confidence he has,
he wouldn't have had, even in 1970.
He used to spend six months on some paintings, just on making
one painting, and he wouldn't have had the fluency then that he has now.
He's fond of saying that the Chinese say that painting is an old man's art and it's certainly borne out
in his case, that a lifetime's experience enables him to work in the way that he does now.
Growing up in Bradford, his father a conscientious objector, his mother a Methodist,
Hockney won his first art prize at grammar school,
went to the Royal College of Art
and fled the industrial North.
He was charismatic and image conscious. His career was glittering.
But he never chose the route of conceptual art, never stopped drawing,
and was always serious about the practicalities of picture making.
What do you think when you come back and look again at your earliest?
Do you know what I thought straight away?
These are the only paintings that have gone a bit dark.
-And it's because of the cheap white paint that I was using.
It's a cheap flake-white. If you put too much in the paint, it makes it go dark not that long after.
And I was only 18 when I was doing it, so nobody cared.
You just covered them up, mostly.
-But the mountain one, I used better paint.
-So this is better.
-No, this is still...
I'm at the Royal College of Art. Still a student, actually.
Still a student. And this is...
You were talking about Chinese painting and the journey.
-It seems to be me this is a little bit of a journey.
Well, it was only my... I think, second or third trip on the continent
and I was going to Italy
and me and an American friend were given a lift from London to Berne in a little minivan
with no windows in it. I was in the back, so you never saw anything,
and we went through Switzerland and never really saw it.
At which I thought, "It's disappointing, so you can't paint the mountains."
So I thought, "There's another way you can paint them."
This is from the postcard of the mountains
and it's a geology diagram.
Yes, it is a journey, moving through it.
I mean, er...
-I might be probably a bit obsessed with it, yeah.
Well, or... But it's the... As I say, it's the movement.
It's movement through... YOUR movement. It's like...
Again, I'll point out the difference.
Duchamp did a woman descending a staircase. It's about HER movement there.
But that's not what Picasso did.
In his still lifes, it's about YOUR movement,
just moving the head and so on,
-which is a lot more interesting, I think.
-A great deal more interesting.
And that hasn't been explored that much.
Probably because of the camera, the ubiquity of the camera and that image,
and it's also unfortunately named - Cubism. It wasn't about cubes.
-It's about space in between them.
-Yeah, and about depicting space and us in it.
And I point out... Really the most interesting space of all isn't way out there,
it's where I end and where you begin, isn't it?
CAMERA CLICKS AND WINDS
Do you know, I'm just a snapper, really.
You know, I've taken photographs for a long, long time
and I have about 100 albums full of photographs, all a life.
Hockney's relationship with photography has actually been long and complicated.
In the mid-Eighties, he took to using photographs
to dramatise the sense of space in a landscape.
Pearblossom Highway is a collage of prints
designed to mimic the subjective,
immersive - you might even say, Cubist - experience of space.
A Closer Grand Canyon is a different solution to the same problem,
painted on 60 glowing canvases.
It's a spatial thrill, the Grand Canyon, seems to me.
Very, very big special thrill.
It's unusual, there's no focal point.
If you stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon you have to look everywhere.
Some things are a bit un-photographable, especially if it's space.
At the time, this was the biggest picture you'd done, was it, I think?
Er...yes, it would've been, yeah.
Yeah, so this is maybe the beginning of the bigger and bigger pictures. That's pretty big.
-Actually, no, THAT'S the same size and that's ten years earlier.
And I was doing... I'd just got a different studio in LA.
The moment I get bigger studios, I start doing everything bigger.
I'll sign the picture.
'I've often said that people never quite know how to place my art
'but it's their worry, not mine!
'You learn the lesson from Picasso. You shouldn't be afraid.
'I loved it the other day when somebody came in, looked at that
'and said, "You wouldn't know it was painted by David Hockney."
'I said, no. I thought that was exciting. You will one day.'
In Los Angeles, his experience
of driving through the Hollywood Hills and the canyons
inspired a new kind of landscape - road paintings.
I decided I'd paint a picture of the Nichols Canyon.
The first thing I drew was this line. It went all over the place at first.
With driving up and down in a little open car,
you sensed how it was big, how it was above you. How things...
You were small and it zoomed up on either side.
The moment I got here,
within one week of coming here - I'd never driven before -
I'd got a driving licence, bought a car,
got a studio and I thought, this is the place.
And I thought, it's so sexy, all these incredible boys.
Everybody wore little white socks, then.
It's always sunny. It's got all the energy of the United States
with the Mediterranean thrown in,
which I think is a wonderful combination.
It even looks a bit like Italy.
-Do you go to America?
-Yes, a bit.
OK, this is my observation in America.
-They're all medicated now and they're are bit slower.
-They're on pills?
Yeah, and you can tell.
-That snapped finger...
-Has gone a bit.
-..has gone a bit
and I mentioned it. When I mentioned it to Gregory in LA,
he came up with a very marvellous LA observation and he said,
"Yes, they're slower away at the traffic lights."
In 1997, Hockney spent six months in Yorkshire,
in order to be near his close friend and supporter, Jonathan Silver,
who was terminally ill. In the late 1980s,
Silver had purchased Salts Mill in Saltaire near Bradford,
where he created a gallery for Hockney's work.
It was Silver who'd been at the receiving end
of Hockney's first epic work for fax machine.
We thought we had one or two problems.
At the beginning, when it started off, we didn't get a connection, but at the moment...
it's magicking the place, isn't it?
He also suggested Hockney should paint his native Yorkshire.
This is an unusual painting, because it's of buildings
and it's for your friend, who was ill.
-It's not a subject I would normally have done.
Architecture is not a subject I'm that interested in.
I painted that in LA, when I went back, but because Jonathan was dying,
-I thought, "Well, I'll paint Saltaire for him."
And, as I say, it wasn't a subject normally I'd deal with, but I did
and he was very pleased.
-And the painting I was really doing, or wanting to, was this space.
I'd made little drawings and then, when I got back to LA,
actually, that's the first thing I did.
-It's painted from memory, the memory of the road...
-Of the road itself.
..again moving through a landscape.
-This is the road from York down towards Bridlington.
-Yeah, yeah, down towards York, yeah.
-That's the road to York through Sledmere.
Again, I kept driving through it.
Do you know, my sister-in-law, when she saw the painting afterwards
she said "Do you know, I never realised it was red and green, Sledmere."
"All the houses are red." I said, "Well, you didn't look hard enough."
I mean, it is.
Again, it was... Yes, the idea of the landscape through a journey.
To what extent do you think you have been able to paint
these extraordinarily vivid paintings of England?
Because you learned a new...
-Because I lived in California for 30 years.
A new vocabulary of colour in California.
Yeah. Well, they're Yorkshire landscapes painted by someone who's lived in LA for 30 years.
As I say, I never intended to...
When I came back, I didn't say, "I'm leaving Cal..." I didn't.
If people asked me where I lived, I'd tell them I lived wherever I happened to be
and I'd point out in Hollywood, we'd say, "I'm on location."
This is location, isn't it?
I was getting to enjoy the landscape.
-By the time here, I'd settled in here.
These were... I did watercolours first. They kept one.
-The wall of watercolours.
-A wall of watercolours.
-I wanted to show the hand, meaning something flowing.
Heart and hand and eye.
That's the Chinese, that's what you need for painting.
You need three things - the hand, the eye and the heart.
Two won't do. It's very, very good, I think.
It's very true, and when you think of Rembrandt drawings, isn't that what they are?
Everything, that's what they are. The hand, the eye and the heart. There it is.
These were when I decided to work from observation to develop perhaps
marks or something, so I just chose watercolour first.
This was summer.
Could you explain for me - I remember you once explaining
the difficulty of watercolour is that you paint in reverse, almost.
Well, yes, you have to work from light to dark.
Once you've got a dark there, you can't put anything light on it
unless you take it out. You can with difficulty, but it can't...
So you have to... You learn this quickly, you work from light to dark.
Again, it's stimulates you. It makes you think out things.
There were some techniques where you have to...
Where was it? Painting of corn, yeah.
-All that was drawn positively with rubber cement.
-So it was white. Exactly, then you rub it off with...
-You've to think, then you rub it off.
You find these techniques and, in a way,
the sketchbooks of these led to the iPad.
I was going to ask. There is clearly a relationship.
-These are two or three hours. These are a few more hours, each one.
And I didn't always exhibit those.
But I think putting them together, like that - I added to them - shows you what I was doing.
-Just simply going out and looking at it.
Certainly in some of them there is a very strong sense of bigness and space, as well.
I am affected, I know I'm affected by the space. It thrills me, I get a thrill.
-Doesn't everybody? It does me.
-And in painting, I've always made space.
How to put figures in space and so on.
One of the first painting spots he settled on
was a rather ordinary farm track that's become known as The Tunnel.
David, can I ask what first attracted you to this particular place?
-Because you painted here a lot.
-Well, it was in the summer.
So...it was actually quite dark in here.
Well, where the trees came round and you could see there was almost
a spiral in here from the shadows
and it caught my eye and I did a small painting, actually.
And then I'd look at it again
and then begin to see, of course, it was go to change.
And especially change from what I'd done originally.
-So I just kept coming back and then I made them bigger.
All the next paintings were bigger
and then it was here that I decided I wanted to do them a lot bigger
and it was here we first brought six canvases out.
And is this about being inside the landscape?
You are surrounded here, 360 degrees.
-You're looking up, down.
-Is that what the scale is for?
-Yes, it is.
Remember, when you... Well, I'll show you films later,
but any cameraman will tell you - Hollywood cameramen will, anyway -
it's not so easy to film the tallness of trees, for instance.
because you have to look up to see the tallness.
-And it's the tallness that would give you the majesty of the tree, isn't it?
The majestic nature. And so it was that.
I wanted to expand it from one canvas,
so I just did what I'd do with a Polaroid or something.
You just put one next to the other, make it bigger.
Remember, if you're doing anything big...
..in any kind of art, actually, the major problems are because they're big.
A great big canvas, you've technical problems,
because you're a certain size. I can only reach so far.
And if it's 12 foot, how do I get to the top of the canvas?
OK, you can go up on a ladder,
-but if you're up on a ladder, you can't...
-You can't stand back!
No, you can't stand back, you can't paint that freely.
So you don't want to do that.
A lot of people would say, why not paint from a photograph?
Why go to the bother of standing out in front of the trees when you paint?
Well, you just get a totally different reaction.
I think, in the end,
the world doesn't quite look like photographs.
Cameras give you a certain kind of view,
but it's not quite the human view, I think.
The idea of being able to work on a big scale outside is terrific.
Remember, Constable, when he did those big canvases,
they were all done indoors. He did it from memory,
because of technical problems.
His main technical problem, he didn't have tubes of paint.
He only had bladders of paint.
-This is about 20 or 30 years before the first metal tubes were available?
So he would have great difficulty working outside.
The invention of the collapsible tube opened up Impressionism.
I mean, meaning you can suddenly work anywhere.
-Fresh ready-mixed colours you can just use?
Technology is altering things.
It's probably doing that all the time.
If you've lived in California the length of time I did,
it is fantastic watching,
not just a bush change but the whole area.
Again, every day would be a different colour.
I mean, look at the variety in the trees.
There's a hell of a lot you can see, isn't there?
There's so much to look at, actually. If you're painting,
you're editing, you're forced to be.
I love the knobbly things.
I'm eating all the Maltesers!
This was actually the first painting where I put six canvases together.
This is the first one. I immediately knew... It's called Closer.
You feel closer, actually... you feel closer to the trees,
you feel closer to the thing.
This was painted outside there.
-Where we were standing.
-In the mud. I mean, we had mud.
I then realised, "Ah, we're moving on,
"this is fascinating, what you can do."
And then I did all those woods.
But the paintings are beginning to get bigger,
and I'm finding ways that you can make big paintings
without too much difficulty, meaning aware it's a technical difficulty.
Can I ask about the colour, David?
Because it seems to be, in these pictures,
you are pulling out more pinks and oranges
-and bright greens than you were doing even when you started.
And you're on the journey towards the big woodland paintings which are unbelievable.
When you're stood there - I haven't done this for a long time -
you're stood there and you start asking yourself about colour.
What is it you're seeing? Cos you have to look hard to see.
I mean, it's... You ask about the colour of the ground and so on
and then you want to relate them.
It's then that you start seeing, "Well, these are pinks, really,
"these are not greys," and you are seeing more.
I always ask questions. "What colour is it really?"
And it has to relate to others. "How does it relate?"
-Also, green is not an easy colour to use.
-It's really not.
Most artists would tell you that. Some hate it.
Turner didn't like green, Mondrian was horrified by green.
Well, if you're painting England, it is green, there's no doubt,
but it is all kinds of different green,
and, of course, different times of day...
But I'm well aware it's not so easy.
Another subject Hockney returns to time and time again
is known as the Totem.
This was a dead tree, you see, it had died.
And it was a good subject in the summer.
Can I just say one thing? This is what great painting does.
I bounced out of the car just now, I go, "Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it wonderful?"
It's just a tree stump! It's not particularly beautiful.
But because I know it from the paintings, I'm going, "Ah, ah."
-That's the magic.
-There's a lot that comes together.
To be able to do what we did here,
especially with the films as well, but painting and drawing,
we were never bothered. We were just mostly on our own.
It's important for you to have subjects
which you return to again and again.
I mean, Monet had his haystacks and you've got a tree stump...
Remember, the dramatic subject here is the change, actually.
Not just today -
-it's when you see it in another week, or two weeks.
So, in a way, you then come back to the same place.
It becomes a motif that is going to look very different.
I mean, there's a lot of iPad drawings of this
in different colours. Misty red morning...
I'd just come along here and if I saw it different, I'd do another picture.
With the iPad, you can do them quickly,
you've got the time to capture them.
You can capture the mood and the palette very quickly.
By the time I was drawing on here with the iPad,
I had been using it for about eight months so I'd got rather good at it.
I'd realised this - that you could, very, very quickly,
establish five colours down there,
generally these reddy-greens, or whatever.
You can do them very quick. Quicker than anything else I know.
Because a coloured pencil, you can't do a mass that quickly.
Watercolour, you'd need a big brush, you've to let it dry.
Here, you can do it in seconds, actually. And so it's a...
It's certainly a new medium, and terrific for certain things.
I found it was good for luminous subjects - sunrise,
-or something like that.
-Because you've got a back-lit screen.
But also this fact that you could put
quite a subtle range of colour down very, very quickly,
quicker than anything else I'd ever come across.
I'm sure loads of other artists will find that.
I mean, it's pretty rotten, isn't it, actually? You can see it.
When you've drawn them a lot, they become quite special to you. They do.
It's the lack of people, that's the great thing, I'll tell you.
The Cotswolds are crowded by comparison.
I will say this, deafness plays a little part in it for me,
in the sense that I have a harder time in the big city,
because of my hearing.
Long before you couldn't smoke in the restaurants in LA,
I'd stopped going to them mostly, because they were too noisy.
If it's noisy, I just hear one big cacophony,
and I couldn't hear people near me.
That is a powerful thing on you, of course.
I like silence as well.
I do like silence. If you like music, you like silence.
-Some people don't, but I do.
-And this is quite a silent part of the country,
in the sense that it doesn't have any through traffic.
People have to want to come to Bridlington to come here.
It's on the road to nowhere.
I used to think there were dull days here for a while,
but after about two years, I decided there wasn't.
Even a day like this has qualities you won't see maybe tomorrow,
or something, or this morning when it was sunny.
But you see, to see the colour here,
you've to start looking for quite a while.
You've to look and look. But it isn't black and white.
No, it's certainly not.
I should just explain that we're here in the Woldgate Woods
where a series of the most exciting, huge sets of paintings that David has made
-were painted from or less where we're standing?
Looking down that way.
And what they will show
is the most extraordinary greens and reds,
and, at different times of the year, mist.
I did about nine in a year, covering a year,
so it was two each season or more. Yeah, there was a mist.
And the mist took a while and, of course, the mist had gone.
But because I'd figured out how to do the misty trees,
I had to come back and still look at them to do it.
-As if they were misty.
-As if they were misty.
Bu the mist only stayed for two or three hours.
And you're trying to work as fast as possible when you're outside.
I like that.
'Hockney is making a series of paintings of this one spot
'called Woldgate Woods.
'By using the same composition,
'he can complete six panels in a day or two.'
'The first winter one took about three weeks to do
'because I was drawing it for the first time.
'Now I'd be able to do them much quicker,
'meaning I go for a special effect of that day.'
-sun coming up.
And the more you put in through oil paint onto the surface,
the more there is there for the viewer one day to unlock and suck back out again.
I should think so. Yeah, yeah.
I mean, the time you put in is visible.
I was conscious of always leaving marks,
not covering up too many marks, leave them visible,
because that's leaving time visible and the process visible.
Generally, you'd only cover up a mark in painting
if you wanted to make an illusion.
See, there's still not much traffic out here.
We thought we were really amazingly lucky what we'd found here,
what I'd found.
And yet to most people, it looks like nothing. You know, it's just a...
Well, my sister, for instance, when we'd done two here -
my sister, who had lived in Bridlington for 30 years -
asked me where it was, you see.
I said, "Oh, well, it's on Woldgate. She used to come driving here.
I said, "Well, you have to get out the car and walk a little bit and stuff."
But not many people do here, really.
Actually, this is where a lot of people just dump things.
Sometimes, you'd have old refrigerators and things.
We thought they looked like sculptures placed here or something.
There's a poem of Wallace Stevens'.
"I placed a jar in Tennessee."
Alone it stood upon a hill.
Putting something in the landscape alters it.
It made me, actually, when they put the refrigerators here,
it made me think of it then.
-I suppose there is another way you could look at it, it's not too bad.
-It depends how many refrigerators, I guess!
You paint with memory even when you're here. No such thing as...
You're painting from memory of yesterday morning.
We always see with memory.
And seeing each person's memory is a bit different.
We can't be looking at the same things, can we?
We're all on our own.
I could come and do them again, and it would be different again.
-It would be painted differently.
-The marks would be different.
Again, I get the impression that the message is not,
"Come and see this extraordinary landscape,"
it's, "Look harder, and look for longer, wherever you live, wherever you are."
Well, yes, it is saying that. I mean, I think that's true. I think...
..I think Van Gogh was saying things like that.
I'm always pointing out, if you took Van Gogh
and put him into the dreariest kind of American motel room,
I suspect, at the end of a week,
he'd still come out with interesting paintings.
The hole in the carpet he'd paint, wouldn't he?
Somehow, everything becomes interesting, because he's looking at it.
So to paint a place, you have to have a lot of knowledge -
you have to have acquired knowledge about light and the foliage
-and what you're looking at before you can really paint it?
Because you have to understand... For instance, the arrival of spring
is an event that, for six weeks, it will be changing almost daily.
So, you know, you're doing this,
well, it take a year or two to sort that out in an orderly way,
because you have to have one spring, and then wait for the other.
So it does take time,
and I don't think you can just suddenly come one April
and just do it.
Hockney's close observation of the cycles of nature
is behind a show stopper of the Academy exhibition
dedicated to the arrival of spring.
The largest gallery in the Academy
has been turned into a single work of art made up of 51 iPad prints...
..and a massive end-wall painting.
-If you come down here and look at it, I mean...
-You look through there.
-You can't do this with the real building.
To do the spring, you had to begin in the winter
because you have to show the change, so you've got to show
before and after, and becoming.
This sequence starts in the winter, and then works its way
-through the room.
-It starts here in the winter and goes on until June.
And I was out there every day, watching everything,
as the grass begins, as the little flowers,
the first spring flowers are coming out.
So it's all there in order, and I assume there might be people
who know nature rather well, so everything is in order.
Because I thought, "Well, it has to be. I'll do that."
I can't think of a room that's been designed this way before.
-I can't think of something that's...
-Well, I don't suppose this room - THIS room -
was ever given out to someone, an artist,
the way they gave it to me, in a sense.
There's no historical record of it,
and it wouldn't happen much, but it is...
-a very grand, splendid room.
-It certainly is.
-And so you need a big, splendid subject, I think.
-Well, that's what
-And the arrival of spring is one.
-It is, absolutely.
Can I ask about the iPad specifically, David?
Because someone coming in here will look at these pictures
and the first thing, if they don't know about it, they'll think, "What are they made with?"
They're not oil, they're not gouache, they're not watercolour.
They are something new, aren't they?
The quality of the colour is different.
There are new forms of printing about, and unless you're...
If you're just printing colour photographs from them,
you're not going to get that much interesting...
What you put in the machine will come out.
And I began to be aware that you could, if you...
For instance, I knew these pictures were going to be
-about five-foot high, when I'm drawing them on the iPad.
And in a way, you begin to draw knowing about the printing machine,
-what colours will do.
-Yeah, I see.
And it's a very free method. You can see they're hand-drawn.
You can see the hand working.
And it's the most direct thing I've ever come across.
I will point out, you couldn't have done this without a massive wall,
because you have to print them out to see them, and sometimes,
when I print them out, I then go back to work on it.
You think, "Well, I'll work on this area, do this," and you can, you see,
but without a vast wall, you wouldn't even conceive it,
because you have to see the print. You have to see it printed like this.
But I then realised, "This is moving into newer territory with the iPad,"
and if you understand the printing machine and draw accordingly,
you can get very, very good things.
You are working phenomenally hard.
For those people who go, "David Hockney,
"swimming pools, Californian sun, bit of a hedonist,
"probably hangs around..."
Just tell me about how hard you're working and have been for the last seven years.
Well, I would point this out. An artist can support hedonism
but he can't be a hedonist himself, because artists are workers.
By the definition, they work.
But you could support the idea of hedonism.
You're in favour of it in principle. In practice, you're out there
in your gumboots and your cap in all weathers.
In the biting Yorkshire wind.
So was Matisse, wasn't he? I mean,
you have to notice what the artist does and not what they say, really.
There's a very interesting poster that's going up at the beginning,
which says that all the artworks here
were made by the hand of the artist himself.
-Personally, by himself.
-I wonder, there's no agenda there?
-You're not referring to anybody else, I'm sure, are you?
Well, I am, actually, yeah. Well, it's an argument about the hand.
-Remember... I would say the hand counts. Yes,
-But there are a whole school of artists who say it wouldn't.
-Damien Hirst and all that lot.
-Yeah, Gilbert and George would.
They use it because the reason they would play down the hand
is because there's two of them, and really only one of them
uses the hand, but you don't know which it is.
But otherwise, frankly, it's a little bit insulting to craftsmen, isn't it?
-You're an artist but you have to be a craftsman as well.
-It's, "What is art and what is craft?"
Yeah, in fact, I used to point out, in an art school,
you can teach the craft.
It's the poetry you can't teach.
But now they try to teach the poetry and forget the craft.
It's craft that can be taught. You can teach skills,
and skills are practised, aren't they?
Lift it up a bit, Jonathan. Up.
Hockey's been picking up some new skills.
With his team in Bridlington he's begun making films.
His big idea was to mount a grid of nine cameras onto a Jeep.
One picture, but nine subtly different points of view.
I'd used one camera occasionally but I did begin to see,
well, you could now start making different-looking films
because the cameras have got smaller.
Very small, actually. You don't need a camera this big at all, do you?
So you could put a few together.
This is kind of... Cleopatra would have had cameras like this, really.
The subject matter is the same as the paintings -
nature in all its seasons, and all its detail.
And it's the only way you can make a new bigger picture.
They think the only way is to just project it bigger,
but the bigger you project it, remember - and it's the same time
in every part of the screen -
the bigger you're projecting it, therefore, it's going to get flatter and flatter,
because you're not really adding time or anything.
The only way you can add time to it is this way,
in this form, a kind of collage.
And so, you're not... You're not telling the observer where to look.
We're not telling you where to look at all.
'And here's a moment for both of us to shut up
'and you, the viewer, to simply look.'
'At the Royal Academy, nine screens have become 18.' Wow.
These are still using nine cameras.
All we did to use the 18 screens was move it along in time.
So I then realised, my God, you could also draw,
not just in space, in time, actually, with it.
And I was rather thrilled by this, because I thought,
-"Well, it is a critique of one camera."
However much definition you get from it,
it's still one picture with the same time in every part of the picture.
-You're told where to look.
-And you're told where to look. Here,
it's a different time in 18 parts of the picture,
and you're not told where to look, so you begin to scan,
which is what we do in reality -
it's never the same time in each moment,
so we probably make the space from time in some way.
Photography's not the ultimate thing.
I mean, it means it's just a stage in a way of picture-making
that is now altering, because there's the technology.
Here we're making a bigger picture, I think.
And so I rather enjoy saying, "You at the television,
"well, we can make a bigger picture than you can."
And perhaps that's, as I say, why we have not looked at something.
I think pictures make us look at the world. They make us see things.
And that single camera might have... I always used to say,
"Well, a television picture's too poky.
"You don't see enough."
And maybe that's me being...
I'm a bit claustrophobic, for instance. I like great big spaces.
So it might be just me, that, but nevertheless,
some other people have agreed with me after seeing this.
-Do you know the Fellini film The Ship Sails On?
You can get it on DVD.
It's all about the difficulties of depiction...
As you walk around the show, it's impossible
not to be moved by all the restless colour and the shimmy of life,
but when you get to Winter Timber, you can't help thinking about mortality.
The cut wood is shocking
and the deep colours a garishly bold statement,
At 74, David Hockney's reinvented himself as a landscape painter
but perhaps that's what makes The Arrival Of Spring so impressive.
This feels like a very young painting,
capturing that moment of renewal
when the new leaves seem to be floating in space.
In the year past, we've lost another friend of yours,
the great painter Lucian Freud, and as YOU get older,
you seem to be working harder and harder.
You're sort of flinging yourself into more and more projects,
and I wonder if there's a sense of acceleration,
hunger, to complete projects and to find new ones
that's to do with getting older.
Well, probably. Because, frankly, if I'm not busy, I'm hopeless, me.
My friends tell me that. "It's always good if you're working, David.
"You're terrible if you're not working." And, anyway, I want to.
A lot of artists get very active as they get older. A lot.
I certainly don't want to slow down. I mean, I always work.
I don't stop working.
I'd say, look, we're on a roll and if we're on a roll,
just keep it going, because it will stop eventually,
but we don't know when,
and we're doing it in the paintings, drawings, everything.
Let's keep it going as much as we can.
And I intend to, and I still intend to. We haven't stopped.
Yeah, I feel very, very active. I'm not feeling...
And, actually, I think... I even think we're a bit ahead as well,
-meaning not many people are exploring these areas.
-The new future?
As I say, I realise there are problems with all kinds of depiction.
I'm interested in depiction. Not all artists are, but I am,
and I will go on being interested in it.
There's nothing here that is political painting
and yet it seems to me that, you know, at a time
when people are worried about England
and the condition of England and so on,
they think it's all going away,
actually, what you're saying to people is, "Look harder and it's not.
-"It's all still there."
-Yes, it is.
-Is that true? Is that fair?
-It is. Yes, it is. It is, actually.
And it's very beautiful.
We live in a very, very beautiful part of the world that has...
As I say, it has seasons that change.
Ruskin said there was no such thing as bad weather in England.
He pointed out it's never too hot, it's never too cold.
It's always bearable.
If you want a green garden, you've got to have rain.
I mean, it's all part of it. I agree with him.
I mean, I criticise a bit when they say the weather's bad
on the weather forecast. I always think, "For who?"
You know? I mean...
When it's... The moment it snows in Brid, we go out to see it.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
David Hockney, widely considered to be Britain's best-loved living artist, has taken over the Royal Academy in London with his exhibition A Bigger Picture made up of recent works depicting the landscape of his native Yorkshire.
In this programme, Andrew Marr, a friend of Hockney's and an amateur painter himself, is in conversation with the artist, both at his home in Bridlington and in the galleries of the RA.