Small Tales of Everyday Yorkshire Folk
January 27, 2017
Mrs Wickens (née Burton) Recalls
‘We lived at 51 Steadman Terrace and the Hockneys lived at number 61, just a few doors up. My mother and Laura Hockney were very friendly. My mother would slip up there every now and then, if Laura said ‘could you take him?’ and look after David. He must have been very small at the time. She always wished she’d kept his drawings! When she looked after other people’s children in later years, she kept the drawings, just in case. You’ve a lot on with five children, haven’t you and in our house there was only me and I was already at the Grammar School by then. Laura would send a Christmas card every year after they moved, right up till when she died. I’ve still got a really nice one, dated 1973. It’s a print by David I think.’
Dolly Hanson, ‘Young David’ and the pram
Dolly Hanson, my Nan, lived with husband George in Pullan Lane in Eccleshill, quite near the Hockneys, from 1940 to 1950. They were on speaking terms, saying ‘hello’ and exchanging a few words when they saw one another. Dolly’s own sons – my father and his brother – were born in 1932 and ‘42, five years to either side of David, the fourth of the Hockney children. Dolly used to talk of often seeing ‘Young David’ in those years, setting off from home with an old pram chock full of paints, ready to set up canvas at some great vantage point just down the road, with views right over Bradford.
Auntie Margaret Regrets
My Auntie Margaret was in the same pottery class as David Hockney at Bradford Art College in the 50s. Other than being an eccentric character around Bradford, there was no particular indication, as she saw it, of future glory. One day in class, David made a pottery cat, but decided to bin it because he didn’t think much of it. Wanting to console him, Auntie M praised the artwork and he immediately gave it to her, pleased to see it appreciated. Sadly, she didn’t really think much of it either. She’d only wanted to be kind. Once he’d gone, she binned it too.
Cousin Helen is Intrigued As a schoolgirl, Cousin Helen regularly went to the Halle Orchestra evening subscription concerts at St George's Hall in Bradford; mainly, as she recalls, ‘to eye up the boys from Bradford Boys' Grammar’. The young ones sat on tiered seats behind the orchestra and she found herself regularly fascinated by the strange youth she often saw there, with large round specs and unusual clothing. As she says now ‘This would be around 1956-57, before the days of self-expression, when most of us dressed like miniature versions of our parents.’ The strange youth was none other than David Hockney, then at Bradford Art College, formerly of the Boys’ Grammar.
Cousin Liz wonders about light and shade
My cousin Liz had two boyfriends (one later her first husband) at Bradford Art College in the 60s. She claims to be unartistic, but a very talented appreciator of artists! She would see David Hockney there on occasion, though he’d long since left to study in London. ‘There was a lot of to and fro between Bradford and London in that era’ she says. The most pressing question he always elicited from a lifelong bottle blonde? Just how he managed to bleach his hair quite so blonde - and quite so well!
Textile Artist Corinne Young and the Daily Commute
‘For a while, before the Royal Academy 'A Bigger Picture' show in 2012, I ran an Art Gallery in Bridlington. At that time, David Hockney had a network of arty friends and family in the area, (including the gallery owner), so would occasionally visit the gallery on preview evenings. Without fail, this caused a lot of excitement among the staff and other visitors! However, the thing I most remember is that it became quite normal to drive past David and his team while they were setting up to take photographs, or while David was painting his many views of the Wolds landscape. I had to remind myself occasionally that this was a world-famous artist I was seeing on my daily commute!’