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5.0 out of 5 stars A record of the moving eye, by the moving lens., 8 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: David Hockney: A Bigger Picture (PAL with Subtitles) (DVD)
Most people who went to Bradford Grammar School would normally only remember their class mates.
But there are many hundreds of people who can rightly claim to know David Hockney because they all went to that school during the same time he was there. I was one of them, the same age, but in a different class. Our claim is real because we all tuned in to him. (My perspective is slightly more acute than most, because I too have had a lifelong career as artist and teacher). We remember speech day when he received his art prize every year, his affirmation of the obvious charisma and talent already visible in his work in the art room and in the scraperboard illustrations he published each term in the school magazine.

What a pleasure it is for us to have Bruno Wollheim's film, which completes the great circle of time since then, and provides the proof of the pudding, of which we had all been given a glimpse of the recipe. David is our artist and he is back here on our patch.

Nowadays, David Hockney is not just Yorkshire's artist, but that of the nation, and more. Like the shaman who makes visible the dreams of the tribe by means of the magical practice of his gifts, so, here we have the master, seeing, feeling and recording on our behalf the spectacle and magnificence of our landscape and our universe. We think we know it, but David gives us so much more that we have not noticed. It is all there in the film.

David is out there doing the work, day in day out; being the artist, painting what he sees. Not content to just drift on into his twilight years doing the same, this guy dreams up the monumental challenge of filling the biggest wall at the Royal Academy with a picture of one of those great stands of beech trees we remember driving past on journeys across the Wolds towards the East Coast.

Not only does he pull it off, with the use of many state of the art technical aids, but he welcomes Bruno Wollheim to shadow the project for over three years with his camera and microphone. Through all weathers, they gathered a harvest, day by day, of David's pictures, of the fields, hills lanes trees and hedge rows, skies and light, accumulating the knowledge that would be applied when it came to the "big one". All the time the film takes us up close. We are within the range between the artist and his outstretched arm to the canvas.
We feel the uncertainty of the search, the hesitation, the challenge of changing light as the day progresses. We are protected from the lash of the rain, the numbing of fingers in the cold. But we are there.

Not long ago, the only access we had to an artist was through the pages of large Thames and Hudson editions, with their still reproductions. Now we have the animation of video, with its recording of "the moving eye" by the moving lens. I find it interesting to be conscious that there are three layers in this "film" of reality; the eyes of the painter, then, through the lens, that of the film maker, and finally our own watching them both. Each of us colours what is there to be seen.

This DVD is a comprehensive package. The "main attraction" covers the build up and the final project. Along the way David offers potent insights and gems of wisdom about art, and life and being alive, and even what might come next.

Of the four short films included in the package I very much liked "The Making of the Documentary", showing the relationship of the film maker and his subject, the person and environment. I was able to gather from it and the other shorts, David's uniqueness and private focus and dedication. In that sense, he is somewhere else, on a different plane. I most appreciate his zen like humility and down to earth genuineness that this cameraman makes visible.
The inclusion of the film maker's part in the relationship is important to bring the whole of our experience of film maker and artist into a unity. The satisfaction it gives may possibly have something to do with the current understanding that the experimenter/ observer is to be recognised as an integral part of the enquiry. That is what creates the bigger picture : Bruno's, and thereby, ours.

Buy this DVD. You will want to watch it again and again.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Feb 2012, 16:36:03 GMT
Miss Brunton says:
Hi David,
What a fantastic review! It especially caught my eye as my father attended BGS around the same time. I was wondering, are there any copies of the school magazine with the scrape board pictures still in circulation and have they been part of any of the Hockney's exhibitions? I was lucky enough to go to the RA last week to see the new exhibition and was fascinated by it, simply stunning.

Thanks, Louisa

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Feb 2012, 17:03:44 GMT
David Seeger says:
Hello Louisa,
I appreciate your comment on my review of the Hockney DVD. You mention the scraperboard illustrations in the Bradfordian. I myself do not have copies, but I wonder if the school library might have them.I live in Ireland, so it is difficult for me to check. Perhaps you might make inquiries yourself. I would like to hear if you get a result, please post it here.
I am booked to visit the exhibition in March, and looking forward to it very much.

Best regards,
David.
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