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The Importance of Looking Closely

June 10, 2015  •  4 Comments

These pictures ... celebrate fleeting moments of intense beauty and remind us of the importance of - and the joy we can get from - looking very closely. 

David Hockney

I couldn't phrase it any better than David Hockney. What he says is exactly what I try to express here on my blog. 

So a perfect Sunday morning for me is taking in an exhibition and stopping by a cafe (independent, not chain), sipping a cappucchino  - one of the few times I drink coffee - and watching the world pass by. Paris would be the perfect location but on this occasion Saltaire near Bradford in West Yorkshire suits me just fine. I'm paying a return visit to Salt's Mill, the magnificent UNESCO world heritage site which, when it was originally built in 1853, was the largest floor space in an industrial building in the world. And it oozes character.

The aim of my visit is to view the latest David Hockney exhibition The Arrival of Spring. I'm unsure what to expect and if I'll love it or not love it.  However, I do know that as a Yorkshire man, his work feels as if it belongs here. 

photo taken at Salt's Mill Saltaire Bradford Yorkshire England

permanent display of Hockney's work hangs in a gallery down on the ground floor of this historic mill. It's a perfect setting amongst exposed brickwork, aged timbers, worn stone flooring and metalwork.

Photo at Salts Mill Saltaire West Yorkshire

Clusters of vintage tables and cupboards have tempting displays of arts related goodies to buy. It's all very quirky and 'just right'.

Photo at Salts Mill Saltaire West Yorkshire

It's impossible to leave this space without spending. I'm quite restrained this time and simply buy a couple of postcards. 

Photo at Salts Mill Saltaire West Yorkshire

A few floors higher in the minimalist setting of mill is the exhibition The Arrival of Spring. This is a collection of work inspired by the changing seasons in the English countryside and set close to the coast in East Yorkshire. The works were created on his iPad and I find that intriguing. I think in this country people can be a little 'sniffy' about work created digitally. I have the impression that in the US it's becoming more of a recognised art form.

And so back to Hockney...

photo taken at Salt's Mill Saltaire Bradford Yorkshire England

Wow this is an impressive body of work. From a distance the vivid colours and simplicity are very striking. Taking a closer look the detail in the subjects and the layers of colour showcase what can be achieved with digital brushes. I recall he uses an app called Brushes
photo taken at Salt's Mill Saltaire Bradford Yorkshire England

In a small side room I spotted a row of three screens with changing displays of Hockney's iPad work. The vibrant colours are likely what defines his work and make it stand out as his own. Of course I had to take a monochrome shot. And there's just something about a row of chairs calling out to be photographed!

photo taken at Salt's Mill Saltaire Bradford Yorkshire England

I find the fabric of the building to be equally as interesting as the exhibition.  The windows perfectly frame scenes of village beyond. The light falling on the old textured flagstones creates interesting shapes. Many a wooden clog would've clomped over this floor in centuries gone by.  

I stop for my coffee. It feels good to be in this bubble of creative space. 

I can't leave the mill without taking a peek around the not so perfect rear of the building. An array of texture and reflection await me.

This is one of my favourite views through the window of the security door. The beauty of imperfection.

photo taken at Salt's Mill Saltaire Bradford Yorkshire England


So digital art?  What are your thoughts?


​Ps My new website is coming along well. But what's holding me back at the moment is the email address for my new domain name - sometimes it works and sometimes I get delivery failure messages. The inconsistency is so frustrating. I need to research further. But I prefer to create...



I found this quite fascinating Helen. I didn't know Hockney was creating on an iPad…And as much as I appreciate his bold colours you know what I really like best about this post? Your black and white window shots! I love what you do in black and white Helen. You are amazing. You must do more!
Viv Halliwell(non-registered)
Mark and I visited the mill on our Yorkshire getaway it's a wonderful space for a wonderful artist. Although I admire his skill on the iPad I do prefer his traditional style if you can ever call Hockney traditional...
diana foster(non-registered)
You visit the coolest places! Love following your journeys. Saw a Dali book there. We went to the Dali museum in Tampa Florida.
Obviously I am a big fan of digital art. I love taking a simple, ordinary scene and making it into art. I love the challenge, each photo is different and really tells me what I need to create out of it. Great mill and great display of his work.
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