Sunday, 15 August 2010

The Sunday Story: Tea with DH & IH.


This picture, by David Hockney, is of Peter Schlesinger (his boyfriend at the time) getting out of a swimming pool in Los Angeles. The pool was owned by an American gallery owner (called Nick), but you knew all that!

I'd been to David's 1970 retrospective at London's Whitechapel Gallery, and he'd invited me for tea that afternoon.

David lived in a first floor flat, in a rather dour and unassuming house in Powis Terrace, Notting Hill, but the inside was quite different. He'd managed to buy the first floor flat of the house next door, and had knocked the two into one, creating a huge space. His studio was large and airy, and on the day of my visit he was working on a painting of a couple in The Luxembourg Gardens with their backs to the viewer. I don't think I've ever seen the finished job.

When it came time for actual tea, David reeled off the most staggering choice of different flavours; predictably I chose Lapsang. The tea was made, and served, by the lovely Peter (seen above getting out of Nick's pool), who was wearing an apron and not much else.

It's possibly worth noting that on the day of his invitation, David's studio was totally empty (other than the job he was working on). Later that same week I was invited to tea by artist Ivon Hitchens at his ramshakle Sussex home; the place was piled high with framed paintings. David sold everything as soon as the paint was dry; the great Ivon presumably didn't.

When I left Ivon, his wife gave me a huge peony, but by the time I'd reached home it had completely fallen apart; beauty so fleeting. Ivon died not long afterwards; David, of course, is still going strong. I like to think that I keep the Ivon approach to life alive; I have a garage-full of unsold paintings.

9 comments:

  1. Not only is Hockney still going strong, he is an ardent advocate of tobacco smoking and rants on about it whenever he has the opportunity, slagging off the recent ban in public places. That's probably why he left California.

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  2. I'm sure he's weighed up the pros and cons; good for him. It ain't illegal... Yet.

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  3. I don't know why I love Hockney, but I do. I'd totally hang out with him and absorb his life.

    You forgot to mention the dachshunds, Cro. Any story about Hockney should have at least one of them running around.

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  4. I don't remember dogs. Maybe his obsession began later.

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  5. Love the stylized water in this piece. I like how you tie the wilting peony to life.

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  6. Just this week my husband and I were talking about David Hockney. Great synchronicity!

    (wv: sequenc -- or is it "sequenicity"?

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  7. Definitely an eye catchy subject matter. I'm always drawn to anything with a swimming pool. Just love the cool blue and freedom of swimming-like flying!

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  8. I had to laugh about the garage full of unsold paintings ...aside from an old perforator, my son's glass art rejects and a letterpress, mine is filled with many sketchy-looking objects that definitely are not art. But speaking of art, apparently when Freida Kahlo needed money, she would just mail one of her paintings off to an unsuspecting acquaintance and enclose an invoice. I wish I had the guts to do something like that, if only as an experiment.

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  9. What a wonderful idea. Or a 'garage Sale' maybe?

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