David Hockney a much loved British artist was this month guest editor on the BBC news programme Today. During the programme he railed magnificently about the petty restrictions and interferences to natural liberties that this Labour government had imposed upon its people. Hockney is as you would expect a natural libertarian, and being a true Yorkshireman, in his 71st year, he has a tendency to speak his own mind, and speak it loudly. Yorkshiremen are not famous for pussyfooting about, as a Yorkshireman myself I can both sympathise with this.
However it was Hockneys primary rant that caught my attention. As a serious smoker David Hockney sought to wind back some of the legislation that has prevented smokers imposing their dreadful fumes upon the rest of us. He wants to have the freedom to be smelly in public, in pubs, and restaurants, in libraries, in theatres and cinemas. He wants the right, and by God he will have it, to kill yourself slowly in public.
Now David Hockney is a much loved and respected artist, he is one of very few that have made a genuine contribution to our creative culture in the past 60 years. It would be a great sadness to see this happen. It is however ironic that David would never call himself an artist though, he is without doubt a considerable artist, he would call himself a painter pronounced “paaaynter” in broad Yorkshire. There are many younger Conceptual Artists happy to aspire to the title Artist that I would be much more happy to see dying slowly in public. As a conceptual work of art killing yourself slowly in public as much to be recommended, it would rid us of at least one conceptual artist, and maybe more with abit of encouragement.
They shouldn’t need a lot of encouragement, they have done many daft things in their time carefully laying out a pile of house bricks and calling it art, two of them marching boldly around East Anglia with a plank on the heads and calling itself, one, was so bold as to take a tin can fill it with his own excrement and call that Art. this however has nothing whatsoever to do with beauty and very much to do with branding attracting attention getting known getting talked about . So why not go the whole hog and slowly, publicly, painfully, to kill yourself. That would be really good thing to do, a great piece of “Conceptual Art” and a genuine contribution to our culture.