Today I stood near the three trees on the road to Burdale from Thixendale. The trees are close to budding now. The weather forecast promises T-shirt weather; the presenters giggle about Yorkshire being warmer than Ibiza. In 2012, I stood, with my eldest daughter, in the first room of the Royal Academy’s A Bigger Picture. My daughter sat down and scribbled on the children’s pad provided by the show, while I absorbed the paintings,.

Three Trees in the proximity of Thixendale

Three Trees in the proximity of Thixendale

Each work plants the viewer firmly in the heart of each season, and every season is shown at its apex, whereas today, standing there, right there, I could see winter begin to drift into spring, as the grass greens up from winter’s clayey browns. Indeed, here in the Wolds, one rarely feels entirely within one season. Summer may merge with autumn, and winter with April, as happened in 2013. Occasionally, it as if there is no summer at all. Hockney, though, fixes his four moments entirely within their season’s peak. In his spring Trees, the high clouds carry no threat of the late snow that fell there last year, the blossom sways gently on a light breeze, the sturdy limbs of the trees do not bend to a sudden blast from Siberia. In that room in the Royal Academy, one turns to see a new season. Time has passed; the next time will come, and it, too, will pass. The trees will fall, be cut up for logs. New ones may grow in their place. Permanence is illusory, as the short films he made along Woldgate show. Everything is changing, all of the time. But the artist, painting over time, applying daubs of oil, one daub at a time, over days of endless change, weeks of rain, wind, sunshine and snow, fixes those trees directly in front of me, just as they stand there now, as they stood there today, in front of me standing. These pictures are as fantastical as paintings of unicorns, or the slaying of fauns, yet every leaf, every sod of the soil, is entirely real, and can be seen, if you stood on that lane, from Thixendale to Burdale, perhaps with a canvas before you and a brush in your hand, and looked, over and over again. Just seeing, that’s all it takes.

Just look

Just look

Hockney, Thixendale

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