Portraits : David Hockney and friends

It was another wet early March day in London. Fortuitously I had already arranged to meet my brother in the afternoon at Tate Modern, as anxiety about Covid 19 was beginning to grow, but before so-called lock-down was declared.

The train journey was tense, and I chose to walk to Piccadilly for a late morning viewing of the RA’s Picasso drawings.  It was a stroke of luck to dodge a heavy downpour by ducking into the National Portrait Gallery,  and catch the David Hockney Portraits.

I’ve loved Hockney’s work since seeing his set of East Riding water colours at the Courtauld 15 years ago. They were tiny, and displayed on one wall, nine by four.

This is a very poor photo, copied from a website – but you get the idea.


This was well before he began his huge and equally compelling oil paintings of the same part of the  world. My postcards of that first water colours collection grace our stairs; six by six.


These are the quiet roads of the Wolds; chalk downlands between the Vale of Pickering and Holderness. I learned to drive on these in 1969-70. I knew them well.

The portraits are equally interesting. The subjects – many of them his friends – age before our very eyes. The passing of time caught so poignantly, so brilliantly.

In case you don’t get an opportunity to see them – here are a few. My photos can’t do them justice. But you’ll get the idea..

And finally, perhaps one of my favourites: Mrs Hockney, his mother, who is the subject of a photomontage as she sat among the ruins of Yorkshire’s Bolton Abbey in the rain

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