Entertainment & Arts

David Hockney fights to protect inspirational view

David Hockney at the Royal Academy
Image caption David Hockney's paintings and film of Woldgate will be shown at the Royal Academy from January

The artist David Hockney has warned road labourers in his home town of Bridlington in Yorkshire that they are digging up one of his main sources of inspiration and a piece of art history.

Hockney has taken roadwork managers to his studio to show them new paintings of Woldgate, an unspoilt country lane, and tell them not to do lasting damage.

He has also visited the site several times to personally monitor the works.

His images of Woldgate will be shown at the Royal Academy in London next year.

"David's been absolutely fixated on Woldgate and painted, drawn, photographed and filmed it extensively over recent years," said Zoe Silver of Salts Mill in Saltaire, West Yorkshire, which houses a large collection of Hockney's work.

"A lot of the Royal Academy show will be made up of that [work]."

A photographic piece, made up of three 27-foot (eight metre) images of the Bridlington end of the road, taken at different times of the year, went on show for the first time at Salts Mill on Wednesday.

As well as the paintings and photographs, Hockney has made a film on the road using 18 cameras, which will be displayed at the Royal Academy on multiple screens.

At a press conference for the show last week, the artist described the route as "a lovely little bit of England that is not spoiled".

Workers are digging up the road to lay a new gas pipe for the town. Hockney gave them a list of specific spots to leave undamaged, such as a tree stump and a bluebell wood.

John O'Grady, communications manager for Northern Gas Networks, who took part in the discussions with Hockney, said: "His concern was that, because we are putting in this massive new gas pipeline, the environment could have been affected detrimentally.

"His PA went down to the site and pointed out to the operational people the particular locations which were treasured by Mr Hockney and other local people.

Image caption David Hockney's photographs of trees on the road in different seasons have gone on display in Saltaire

"For example, there's a tree stump which is known locally as the totem pole, and we obviously went out of our way to make sure we kept well away from that particular local feature."

Mr O'Grady described the artist as a "a plain-speaking Yorkshireman" but said the discussions had been constructive.

"He has been down several times and kept a very close eye on what we've been doing," he said. "Which is fine and we understand that.

"We're happy to work with Mr Hockney and the other local people. So far the feedback has been very good."

Mr O'Grady said he was "gobsmacked" to be invited to the artist's studio to get a preview of works that will be on show at the Royal Academy, and to be given lunch at Hockney's home.

The exhibition at Salts Mill also includes pictures created by Hockney on his iPad and iPhone alongside portraits of his family, friends and acquaintances drawn on a computer.

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