Showing posts with label David Hockney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Hockney. Show all posts

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Celia Birtwell teams up with Uniqlo

Celia Birtwell is one of the UK’s most talented textile designers. Her gorgeous prints were tailored and cut into romantic dresses in the  60s and 70s by Ossie Clark, her late ex-husband, and worn by the likes of Marianne Faithfull, Bianca Jagger and Pattie Boyd.

Not only that, she also became the long-term muse of David Hockney, whose Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy portrait is one of the Tate’s most famous paintings.

Now in her 70s, she’s still turning out stunning designs. When she created a fashion collection for Topshop six years ago it rapidly became their most successful designer collaboration. The clothes flew off the shelves in next to no time – in fact I remember Topshop staff having to limit the number of Celia Birtwell designs eachcustomers could buy. Then she designed a range for outdoor clothing store Millets (I immediately snapped up some wellies and a sleeping bag).

So it’s great news that Birtwell has now teamed up with Uniqlo. Her archive prints have been transformed into an exclusive range of T-shirts, vests, shirts, tote bags, scarves and much more and will be launched in Uniqlo stores from March 21.

Wow. I’m definitely going to be in the queue…

Monday, 20 February 2012

Lucian Freud at the National Portrait Gallery

If you live in London and haven’t seen the amazing Lucian Freud exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, go now.

I’d bought tickets as part of my husband’s Christmas present – a nifty idea on both counts as it was a treat to look forward to and I sneakily got to go along too. Actually, I wasn’t sure he’d make it as he arrived back at Heathrow on Saturday from Kuala Lumpur – bleary-eyed after a 13-hour flight and no sleep. But he insisted he wasn’t going to miss out on Freud, so after a bracing coffee (or ten) to revive him we pitched up at the gallery.

The exhibition is, quite simply, stunning. It spans seven decades and gives a real sense of Freud’s world – his family, friends and lovers, many of whom sat for him. The paintings themselves (more than 100 of them) are a tour de force, scrupulously detailed, often very personal and not necessarily flattering. I’m no art critic but stand-out paintings for me included Girl in a Dark Jacket, a wide-eyed portrait of his first wife Kitty Garman (above left), and a series of life-sized portraits of the late performance artist Leigh Bowery (famed for his amazing costumes and body piercings, he posed naked for Freud).

And then, of course, there are the incredible pictures of Big Sue, 20-stone benefits supervisor Sue Tilley, who sat frequently for Freud in the 1990s. Tilley once described to The Guardian how the sessions would start with Freud cooking breakfast. She’d then sit for him and said: “It taught me that it is real work: each painting took nine months, and he was seeking perfection right up to the minute he finished.”

The exhibition is expertly curated and many of the details I learned as we went round have stayed in my head. It was fascinating to learn, for instance, how in the mid-1950s Freud decided to paint standing up and to use coarse hog’s hair brushes, how he used hotel linen to clean his brushes and palette knives (the rumpled white linen often appears in his work) and how paintings often took more than a year to complete.  A 2002 portrait of David Hockney took 130 hours – though when Hockney asked his friend to sit for him in return, Freud sat for precisely two and a half hours.

Freud died last year (2011) at the age of 88 and the most poignant portrait in the exhibition is the last one of all. Portrait of the Hound depicts his assistant, the artist David Dawson, sitting naked with his whippet Eli. Unfinished (it hadn’t been seen by anyone outside Freud’s immediate circle till the exhibition), it’s  remarkable and very touching. 

Lucian Freud Portraits can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery in London till May 27 2012.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The glorious David Hockney exhibition - A Bigger Picture

My serial moving habit is something I’ve written about before. We’ve moved house (take a deep breath here) an embarrassing 12 times in the last 25 years and I’ve got a sneaking feeling that we might do it again one day. 

But one of the places we lived when my children were small was Yorkshire, in a sweet redbrick cottage with horses that popped their heads over next door's fence and views over the rolling fields. They were happy days – days that came flooding back to me last week when I pitched up at the glorious David Hockney exhibition at London's Royal Academy of Arts.

Hockney is a Yorkshireman through and through. Now 74, he was born in Bradford, studied at Bradford Art College and seven years ago swapped the delights of sunny LA for life near Bridlington on the East Yorkshire coast. "On the road to nowhere," he told Andrew Marr when the broadcaster visited him in Brid for BBC Radio 4's Start the Week.

His new show, which includes oil paintings (many of them massive), charcoal drawings, sketchbooks, iPad paintings and short films, is a breathtaking tribute to the Yorkshire landscape. 

Hockney loves to observe the same place at different times of the day and during different seasons of the year. One of the most stunning collections of paintings is his 2006 Woldgate Woods series - he placed his easel at a fixed point and returned to the same spot countless times to capture it. Another room is devoted to paintings of hawthorn blossom, while the largest gallery features The Arrival of Spring on Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (Twenty-Eleven), a huge installation made up of 32 oil paintings and 51 iPad drawings printed on paper.

The colour in many of his paintings is vibrant and bold, with purple roads winding through the countryside, stripey orange hayfields, violet tree trunks and turquoise hills. Some critics, including his own former art teacher, have found them “too garish,” but I adored them. Their zinging colours are a dramatic contrast to the more muted hues of his earlier work but bring the landscape he loves dazzlingly alive.

The tiniest details rekindled memories of our far-flung Yorkshire days. A small, red-roofed farmhouse sitting squarely in a field, a tunnel of trees near Kilham and handsome Salt’s Mill – all these and more were the perfect tonic to a chilly midwinter's day.

David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture is at the Royal Academy of Arts till April 9 2012.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...