Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Britain is no Country for an old painter called David Hockney and his totem tree stump in the Yorkshire Wolds

 This is David Hockney's wonderful painting, 'Winter Timber', with its distinctive 4 metre tree stump, which he called his 'totem' and was preserved after he asked a local landowner to leave it standing. It stood on the edge of Woldgate, a quiet, mud-splattered country lane a few miles outside Bridlington.  I saw the painting in London in the Spring, along with 650,000 other visitors and featured it in a posting :

Thursday, 8 March 2012
Britain is country where old painter from North called David Hockney can exhibit big pictures in old art gallery called the Royal Academy in London : http://britainisnocountryforoldmen.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/britain-is-country-where-old-painter.html  
Then this month,  one friday evening a person or persons unknown, under cover of darkness, cut the tree with a chainsaw and spayed it with red paint. The 75 year old painter was told about the vandalism after he returned home from Cologne, now hosting his exhibition, 'A Bigger Picture', which I'd seen in London. He said : "It was just an unbelievably mean-spirited gesture. It is something that has made me depressed. It was just a spite. There are loads of very mean things here now in Britain."
He said of the old tree : "It was something that I rather enjoyed. It had been cut down a while back because it was dead but I liked the way it was and I said to the landowners: "Leave it that way" and they did, and then somebody else comes along with a big saw. It must have taken two hours to do." 
He didn't mind the old tree being sprayed with paint because the stump was always battered by the wind and the rain but says its destruction really upset him and in answer to the question : 'Does it change the nature of his original painting?' replied : "It does in a way, a little bit." He is convinced the stump was targeted because it had become possibly the most famous piece of dead wood in Britain after he portrayed it in several of his acclaimed landscapes of the countryside around his home in Bridlington
The tree was part of the official 'Hockney Trail' and the vandalism has been condemned by 'Welcome to Yorkshire', the tourist body, which credited the popularity of Hockney's paintings with boosting the number of visitors to the Wold, a beautiful and overlooked part of Britain. David himself  moved into landscape paintings since making Bridlington his permanent home in 2005.

David Hockney sketch"He seems to have been targeted," said Simon Gregson, who runs an unofficial blog about the 'Hockney Trail' in Yorkshire. "If the stump had been felled for firewood the timber would have been taken away." http://www.yocc.co.uk/

David has now created several sketches of the stump but does not yet know what he will do with them. "I'm  just drawing it. That's how I react to it."
 David interviewed about his Exhibition earlier in the year :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU24E_HN9zI

What a sad country Britain has become, where some take a warped pleasure in destroying what gave an old artist inspiration and  the pleasure of those who tread in his footsteps to view that inspiration.

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