Young people find inspiration in David Hockney’s prints at Dulwich Picture Gallery
‘[In his prints, Hockney] is just saying it’s no big deal. He prints the ordinary, and what is normal like being gay, or radiators’ – Young Person, Redthread Youth Club
Despite being in his mid-seventies, David Hockney continues to inspire people across all generations. A recent collaboration between Salmagundi Films, Redthread Youth Club and Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Youth Engagement Programme used Hockney’s work as a basis for young people to explore multi-media film and animation techniques and create work which is now to be shown at the Gallery. As part of the five week programme, entitled Perceptions and Reflections, twelve young people aged 11-15 experimented with digital, film and animation techniques to reinterpret work from the ‘Hockney, Printmaker’ exhibition. The project used Hockney’s prints, in particular his self-portraits, as an introduction to talking about character, self-reflection and self-identity. Participants were actively encouraged to experiment with new and experimental approaches to their work. The first session, for instance, saw the young people drawing stylistic inspiration from Hockney and creating their own animated ‘selfies’ on iPads. One participant, Freya, said, ‘I think I’m a bit like Hockney because I like to try everything that’s new and I’m adventurous.’
Hockney himself is, of course, no stranger to innovation and experimentation. The ‘Hockney, Printmaker’ exhibition includes work produced on photocopiers, inkjet printers and iPads alongside more traditional printmaking techniques. It was this inventiveness and originality that the organisers wanted to encourage in their workshops. As Bo Chapman, Director of Salmagundi Films, put it, they wanted to follow in ‘Hockney’s tradition of embracing technology and finding new ways of working’. The iPads themselves were crucial in encouraging creativity. The participants were able to experiment with new film and animation applications as well as bring their own knowledge and experience. From selfies to animated boiler suits, to filming light box projections, the programme encouraged the young people to follow in Hockney’s footsteps and explore the potential of the iPad as a means of artistic self-expression.
The young participants themselves are all members of Redthread Youth Club, a grass roots organisation that has been running activities for young people in North Dulwich for over 10 years. Working with the support of local schools and committed parents, the club hosts a variety of activities for a group of around 100 young people every Friday night. The programme’s creators, Salmagundi Films, are a production company which works with community and education projects. In 2013, as part of the Gallery’s hugely successful Good Times programme, they worked with Stepney Jewish Day Centre to create an animation called Moving Pictures: Animating Murillo. The film was shown on a continuous loop in Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Mausoleum throughout the last weekend of the Murillo and Justino de Neve exhibition. The young people’s work, produced in the Perceptions and Reflections workshops, is now going to be shown at Dulwich Picture Gallery. The three day show includes digital sketches, short animations, video loops and photographs, much of which was produced and will be displayed using iPads.
The multimedia exhibition of the young people’s work will be displayed from Friday 25 April until Sunday 27 April. It takes place in the Linbury Room at Dulwich Picture Gallery and is free to the public.