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i Editor's Letter: Hockney inspiration


Thank you John Shanks for your email warning that this letter was becoming a “View from an angry Italian dog hater”.

John asked me to re-read recent letters, wondering if I might not change a few today. John, I am no dog hater. Nor do I regret suggesting it was unimaginable Italy would mount a Nigeria raid without telling us in advance. But, you may have a point. In the face of so much doom and gloom, it’s good to step off the news treadmill a little and contemplate something uplifting. I did just that (belatedly) when I went to the truly extraordinary Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy. It’s been on a while, I know, but I don’t get out. It’s a minor miracle I actually made it. One can only marvel at the spirit, talent, creativity and joie de vivre that shines through this wonderful collection. It is fascinating to study his progression through decades of technological innovation. Some, he resisted, like the camera (initially), others, notably the iPad, he embraced.

The iPad section of the show was jaw-dropping stuff. It had us rushing off to an Apple store to ask if they had styluses (styli?). The cult-like assistant glanced at us and asked “You been to Hockney? We do get a lot of requests. Even David Hockney himself asked us.” Apple does not do stylus-thingies because “Steve designed the iPad to be used with a finger, and we want to stay true to his legacy.” I am not making this up. We went home and tried with humble fingertips. It was not Hockney, but it was art. I love that Hockney took up the iPad in his 70s, and created vibrant, beautiful, accessible art on it.

I love too that it so inspired my daughter; and I am happy it gave me a positive subject for this letter. To those that have a knee-jerk antipathy to all things new-from Twitter to those e-books: don’t knock it ’til you have tried it. You never know, you may find yourself inspired too!

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