I went to Saltaire a few weeks back, to learn about the philanthropist mill owner Titus Salt, who built houses and parks and recreation facilities for his workers, a dangerous and socialist idea. Parts of the mill are now given over to a tea-room, and a bookshop, and a gallery filled with works by David Hockney; his i-Pad pictures showing the changing landscape of Yorkshire over the course of a year. The digital prints are finished in some incredibly lurid colours, totally unlike traditional oils.
Perhaps Hockney doesn’t want us to focus on his pictures, but instead to look again at the real world out there. In the States or Japan, he notes, people would drive hundreds of miles to enjoy scenery as lovely as that of Bradford; but we have it on our doorstep, and take it for granted.
Today I shall visit the Art Gallery in Leeds to see the special exhibition of paintings by Terry Frost, including his ‘Terre Verte and White Figure’. Years ago I was thinking about the John Updike novel which includes an artist who drops an aspirin in the bath and is then inspired to create a gallery of white pictures, which made me want to learn more about the play ‘Art’ by Yasmina Reza, and as I was searching online for information about this script I stumbled on a household decoration consisting of a plastic frame into which one could slot one’s favourite LP cover. The advertisement for this item showed a woman fitting her copy of ‘Let it Bleed’ into the frame, and on the radio at that moment I heard Zoe Ball playing ‘Gimme Shelter’.
Perhaps, over time, the Terry painting will fade and simultaneously darken, so that the entire canvas becomes a watery grey wash. Which makes me think of a job advert I spotted recently on ‘Linkedin’, where a recruitment agency was looking for a development chemist. The advert was a collection of vague, bland approximately general aphorisms, giving no information about the actual duties of the job or the professional skills required in any applicants. I have decided to steal the text of this advertisement and present it as a neo-modern post-ironic art work entitled ‘Oblique Cadenza no.3’. Meanwhile, the real art is the real world, where David Hockney inspired me to see for the first time how beautiful a plant in a window could really be…