Visiting Jonathan Silver
Having spent the early summer road-tripping through the American Southwest, once again visiting the Grand Canyon, Hockney spends late summer in Yorkshire, where his dear friend Jonathan Silver is in the final stages of cancer. Driving back and forth across Yorkshire to visit Silver—a roundtrip of more than 120 miles between Bridlington and Saltaire—Hockney contemplates how to paint the landscapes of his boyhood, and soon embarks upon a new body of work.
When Jonathan Silver, who ran Salts Mill, the museum of my work at Saltaire near Bradford, got really ill, I came over from L.A. simply because I could see he was dying. He was a close friend. Before Jonathan’s illness we had talked every couple of days on the telephone about art and all manner of things. That was in 1997, and it was the first time I’d stayed in England for a few months since the 1970s. Jonathan lived in Wetherby, which is a very pleasant drive from Bridlington, via York. I was going there every couple of days to visit him, and I started noticing the countryside and how it changed. Because it’s agricultural land around here, the surface of the earth itself is constantly being altered. The wheat grows, then it’s harvested, then you see it ploughed.