Kids in Museums volunteer, Maggie Monteath, imagined this exhibition would be like visiting ‘old friends’ but she was in for a surprise…..
The wall of I-pad paintings above a juggling video will capture your family’s interest even before you go in. The first room is a bit crowded and focuses on challenging traditional representation which might not interest your children but do stop and look at ‘Play within a Play’ which is great fun. It’s fascinating to look at his early work in the next 2 rooms but I thought the exhibition really started getting interesting from Room 4. By now Hockney has moved to Los Angeles and if the kids aren’t entranced by his amazing painting of light on swimming pools they’ll love the bare bottoms! Next are paintings of LA friends and relations, take a good look at ‘My parents’ – you’ll spot David’s Mum several more times before you leave.
Then come his Polaroid film grid pictures, they’ll give you plenty of ideas for experimenting with your digital photos, before everything bursts into a riot of colour in the enormous paintings of the landscapes surrounding his new home in the Hollywood Hills as well as his native Yorkshire. I loved ‘Road Across the Wolds’. These are all displayed in big spaces with lots of seating. I enjoyed the chance to have a really long look. Hockney is quoted as saying ‘I do not think the world looks like photographs. I think it looks a lot more glorious than that.’ Looking at ‘May Blossom on Roman Road’ I think your children would agree. Especially if, like me, they think the blossom looks like Cheesy Wotsits.
Close to the end we met a people jam. Everyone was so entranced by the multi-screen videos of the same road in the four seasons. I think I’d still be sitting there if my husband hadn’t told me there were even better things to follow – the most inspiring charcoal drawings celebrating the arrival of spring along a country lane that make you want to pick up some charcoal and have a go yourself. The icing on the cake came via the final room full of I-pad paintings being created before your very eyes.
Whether you’re a Hockney fan or not there’s such a range of style and content in this exhibition that there’s something that will appeal to everyone. Children will love the bold use of colour and young (or not so young) artists will leave full of inspiration and ideas.
‘David Hockney: 60 Years of Work’ is at Tate Britain until 29 May. Adult: £4.25, Concessions: £3.75, Family Ticket (3-4 people, at least 1 under 18) £11