Visiting the David Hockney gallery at Salts Mill

Hockney Gallery Salts Mill front

It seems like months ago but its only three weeks since I had a weekend away with the other Stylecraft blogstars. We meet up twice a year and are hosted by Stylecraft at their mill in Slaithewaite, [pronounced slough-it (rhymes with now-it) West Yorkshire, which is between Huddersfield and Holmfirth.

I really enjoy going to have a lovely relaxed and social time with the other bloggers and to hear about the new Stylecraft yarns and their plans for forthcoming launches. But more about that in another blog post…

In this one I want to tell you about a real treat that those of us who could make it had on the Friday afternoon… a personal tour of Salts Mill in Saltaire, near Bradford, which houses a huge exhibition of original David Hockney paintings and other artworks.

Hockney Gallery Salts Mill Arrival of Spring

Who is David Hockney?

David Hockney was born in Bradford and just celebrated his 80th birthday on 9th July 2017. He went to school locally and studied at Bradford College of Art before moving to London to study at the Royal College of Art. After he graduated in the early 1960s, he became a leader of the Pop Art movement. As we found out during the tour, he was a talented and skilled fine artist and print maker and has been experimental throughout his career. He was one of the first artists to use acrylic paints and he went on to create artworks using fax, the iPhone and iPad.

The tour we had lasted about two hours and the guide was exceptionally knowledgeable. She told us so much detail about David Hockney’s life, his career and his association with the Salts Mill galleries. She knew the history of every piece of art and it was fascinating to understand why and how each one had come about.

Hockney was very prolific as an artist – and still is – and there are major exhibitions of his work all over the world. Although he has homes in California and had a studio in Bridlington for many years, he has never forgotten his roots in Bradford and was a key force behind the conversion of Salts Mill by his long-time friend Jonathan Silver in the late 1990s. Sadly, Silver died before he saw the gallery fully completed but Hockney has continued to support it and regularly donates new artwork to display there.

The gallery itself is on several levels and its laid out in a non-stuffy way. The large spaces of the historic mill are impressive anyway, but the way the art has been displayed gives it a  magical quality. I came here years ago when my children were just at the end of primary school but then never found the time or opportunity to come back. This time, I won’t leave it so long and I think all of the Stylecraft blogstars who came on the tour were really inspired by Hockney’s use of vibrant colours.

A few examples of Hockney paintings

I wasn’t too sure about taking photos in the gallery itself but I think now that it would have been OK as several of the other blogstars did. However, I did buy a little collection of my favourites which were available as postcards… These first two are paintings done by Hockney of the East Yorkshire landscape so I had to have them! The first one is The Road across the Wolds, painted in 1997 and the second is The Road through Sledmere, painted in the same year. It was only a few weeks ago that my daughter and I went to Sledmere to visit the house and gardens on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Hockney gallery salts mill The road across the Wolds 1997
The road across the Wolds 1997
Hockney Gallery Salts Mill Road through Sledmere
The road to York through Sledmere, 1997

This one shows the landscape of North Yorkshire through David Hockney’s eyes and style – and although this is North Yorkshire, its probably only the part just beyond the Wolds in East Yorkshire. Hockney used to stop and paint landscapes on his way from Bradford to his studio in Bridlington over on the East Yorkshire coast.

Hockney gallery Salts Mill North Yorkshire 1997
North Yorkshire 1997

A major part of the Hockney gallery tour at Salts Mill was the Arrival of Spring series, which Hockney painted in 2011. All are scenes from the same small country road in East Yorkshire, which he visited each day throughout the weeks of spring.

Hockney gallery salts mill arrival of spring

Hockney gallery salts mill arrival of spring

Hockney gallery salts mill arrival of spring

Inspired by the bright Hockney colours

I can’t go into the details yet but at the Stylecraft meeting the next day, we did a little artistic exercise using the colours in Hockney’s paintings and Stylecraft Special DK… It was really interesting and I am really excited about how its going to me used… watch this space 🙂

The Arrival of Spring gallery was certainly one of my favourite parts of the tour but I also loved the examples of Hockney’s paintings on the iPad and iPhone. He loves technology and using it to create such wonderful scenes is amazing.

I also liked how the gallery included plenty of opportunities to sit and drink tea, eat (the cafe was large and very well stocked) and shop. One floor is a dedicated book and stationary shop (I need another day there…) and books and notebooks were displayed in the main galleries too. I was very restrained and bought only one thing apart from the postcards… A gorgeous notecard, handmade and using what looks very much like wool to create a countryside landscape…

Its probably a North Wales landscape judging by the maker’s details but I thought it would make a lovely giveaway prize for the podcast, maybe to combine with something yarny…

I’ve started to plan the next podcast but still need to few more days to get totally sorted and then I hope to be back to a regular schedule until just before Yarndale. Eeeeeeek – its not long now! But I’ve not been worrying about that this weekend. I’ve had a proper weekend off just pootling about, doing what I feel like and enjoying my home space. After all the excitement of the last few weeks and the prospect of September, its been just what I need.

xxx Kathryn








2 thoughts on “Visiting the David Hockney gallery at Salts Mill

  1. Cathy Foot says:

    Saltaire is a great place to visit. We love it. David Hockney is a genius, I especially like his more recnet pictures. The card is just lovely.

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