Newsletter No. 29: ‘An inspiration’

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1ST JULY 2022


Earlier this week, I paid one of my regular visits to Salt’s Mill in Saltaire near Bradford. The mill and adjacent village are a World Heritage site, with the former textile mill having been converted into fancy shops and art galleries. The site is closely associated with the artist David Hockney, who was born in Bradford in 1937, and who has been extremely supportive of his hometown by exhibiting many of his artworks at the mill. I was there to see Hockney’s latest exhibition, A Year in Normandie, which comprises his biggest ever picture: a 90.75m frieze depicting the changing seasons in his French garden. The size and presentation of this piece was influenced by another artwork associated with Normandy, but most likely made in England, the Bayeaux Tapestry. Like many of Hockney’s recent pieces, A Year in Normandie was created on his iPad.

Here are some photos I took at the exhibition.

Hockney is an inspiration. He never stops trying out new ideas. A great draftsman and painter, he famously branched out into other media, producing wonderful photographic collages dubbed joiners. He later explored this idea further in video format. Nowadays, he churns out image after image on his iPad, many of which are wonderful.

Even at age 84, the secret is to keep experimenting, and to keep putting your stuff out there.

Some stuff I thought worth sharing:

  1. ‘A fragment of eternity’: the mesmerising murmurations of Europe’s starlings
    Photographer Søren Solkær has spent hundreds of nights capturing the astonishing flight patterns made by starlings. Note: It might not be obvious, but some of the images are amazing videos. To get them to play, you might need to click on them, or right-click and choose the ‘Play’ option.
  2. Cracking the Cretan code
    The written language Linear B has been deciphered, but Linear A remains elusive. Can linguistic analysis unlock the meaning of Minoan script?
    See also: The ancient secrets revealed by deciphered tablets – When cuneiform was cracked, it gave us some astonishing insights into the ancient world.
  3. Wet Plate Photography with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution
    A lovely video documentary about one man’s 10-year project to photograph all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations and their crews around the coast of the UK using a 170-year-old photographic process. The images are stunning.
  4. Ten years sober
    My friend and near-neighbour Amy Liptrot’s characteristically brave, personal piece about being ten years free of alcohol.
  5. Black death: how we solved the centuries-old mystery of its origins
    The Black Death evolved around Kyrgyzstan, according to interesting new research.

A few bonus links 🔗

Recent Reading

More book reviews »

And finally…

Even before being re-inspired by David Hockney this week, I’d recently begun putting more of my stuff out there on my website. I plan to keep doing this in future, in parallel with working on my Darwin book. So please keep checking out the latest posts on my Sidelines blog.

Thanks, as ever, for allowing me into your inbox, and for making time to read this newsletter. As always, please let me know if you have any feedback, and feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone you think might enjoy it and want to subscribe. It’s always nice to gain new readers!

Keep safe, and I’ll see you next time.


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