David Hockney commissioned to design new stained glass window for Westminster Abbey

'He will have pretty much free rein — he's David Hockney,' an Abbey spokesperson said

Laura Elston
Tuesday 22 November 2016 00:14
Hockney has been an internationally renowned painter since the 1960s, when he arose as one of the leaders of pop art
Hockney has been an internationally renowned painter since the 1960s, when he arose as one of the leaders of pop art

David Hockney is to design a stained glass window in Westminster Abbey to celebrate the Queen's reign.

The influential British artist, who once turned down the chance to paint the monarch because he was too busy, said: “I have planned a landscape full of blossom that's a celebration every year.”

The tall 20ft by 6ft window – one of the church's few remaining clear ones – will be known as The Queen's Window and is in the north transept of the gothic Abbey. The cost is being covered by two anonymous benefactors.

Westminster Abbey said Mr Hockney would largely have artistic control, but be given guidance from the Dean and Chapter and the Westminster Abbey Fabric Commission who deal with changes to the historic building.

“He's given a very elliptical hint. We're as interested as everyone else to see what he comes up with. He will have pretty much free rein because he's David Hockney,” an Abbey spokesman said.

“The Queen is certainly aware of the proposal and there will be continual briefings from us.”

Bradford-born Mr Hockney, widely considered to be the country's greatest living artist, is well known for experimenting with different ways of making art - drawing, painting and using the iPad.

He has been an internationally-renowned painter since he burst on to the scene in the early 1960s as one of the leaders of British pop art - and over the years has extended his talents to work as a photographer, draughtsman, printmaker and stage designer.

Although Mr Hockney will design the window, it will be transferred into stained glass by the Barley Studio in York, who will work closely with him.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr John Hall, came up with the idea of approaching Mr Hockney to help celebrate the Queen's reign.

Elizabeth II marked her 90th birthday this year and last year became the nation's longest reigning monarch.

The artist accepted the commission after travelling from his LA home in the summer to be shown the window by the Dean.

Dr Hall said he was delighted with the plan.

“It will be wonderful to have in the Abbey the work of this internationally-renowned contemporary British artist who has been honoured by The Queen with membership of the Order of Merit, which is in Her Majesty's personal gift,” he added.

In 2011, Mr Hockney revealed he turned down the chance to paint the Queen because “was very busy painting England actually. Her country”. He added: “I generally only paint people I know.”

He finally painted the monarch in 2012, composing an image of the Diamond Jubilee river pageant on an iPad as he watched it on TV.

His piece showed the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as tiny figures with their backs to the viewer as they headed towards Tower Bridge on the royal barge.

Westminster Abbey, which is steeped in more than 1,000 years of history, is where the Queen was both married and crowned. Her coronation was held at the Abbey in June 1953, nearly six years after she wed the Duke of Edinburgh in November 1947 as a 21-year-old bride.

The monarch has maintained a close connection with the church, which is a Royal Peculiar and subject only to the sovereign and not to any archbishop nor bishop.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge married at the Abbey in 2011 and the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales and the Queen Mother were also held there. The royals are regular visitors to its services of thanksgiving or commemorative events throughout the year.

The window is due to be unveiled in June 2018, to coincide with the opening of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries in the Abbey's medieval triforium, which runs 70 ft above the Abbey floor.

Press Association

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