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David Hockney lights up London’s Battersea Power Station with colourful new Christmas tree installation

David Hockney lights up London’s Battersea Power Station with colourful new Christmas tree installation

It’s a very Hockney Christmas in London with the Yorkshire artist bringing some yuletide cheer in the form of two giant trees in full colour and animation to light up the capital.

The digital display was unveiled by David Hockney on Friday (1 December), marking the latest reinvention of his art: a moving cartoon projected on the iconic Battersea Power Station building south of the River Thames.

Drawn on an iPad Pro using an Apple Pencil, the work titled Bigger Christmas Trees will light up the 100-metre-high watchtowers of the London landmark from 5pm until 10.30pm today until Christmas Day.

“I love to make nature look as exciting as it is and this takes two trees and I think looks very beautiful,” Hockney told The Independent. “I will always be working to make things look pretty. And I will always be looking around me and making art.”

“It’s an astonishing merging of technology and art,” said The Independent’s tech editor Andrew Griffin, who attended the work’s unveiling. “Not just in that it’s a beautiful drawing, made on an iPad, but also in that it’s a wonderfully bright projection. At 100 metres high, it’s a bright and grand tribute to the wonder of Hockney, Battersea Power Station (and the iPad), all in one.”

Aged 86, Hockney shows no sign of slowing down, as he continues to create a seemingly endless series of eye-catching works. He currently has two exhibitions in London alone, one a ground-breaking immersive installation, and the other a career-spanning showcase of his portraiture.

“Battersea Power Station is such a beautiful building, I wanted to decorate it in a way that I hoped would bring joy and hope to Londoners,” said Hockney.

David Hockney’s installation at Battersea Power Station (Press)
David Hockney’s installation at Battersea Power Station (Press)

Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said: “David is one of the world’s most important and influential artists, and we couldn’t be more excited to see his latest creation lighting up Battersea Power Station.

“It is a privilege for us that he chooses iPad for his work, and to create this beautiful Christmas gift for the people of London.”

Hockney has been using Apple products in his work since 2007, when he used an iPhone and the then-newly launched iPad. Among the works created with these tools are the glass window at Westminster Abbey and a number of exhibitions.

David Hockney’s installation at Battersea Power Station (Press)
David Hockney’s installation at Battersea Power Station (Press)

During lockdowns, he channelled his love of nature and the seasons in to 220 for 2020, where he captured the unfolding of spring, and A Year in Normandie, his 90-metre-long scrollwork.

“Battersea Power Station has been a source of inspiration for many artists for over 90 years and we are thrilled to be working with Apple to continue this legacy with a festive animation from David Hockney, one of Britain’s most influential artists, creating a moment for all to enjoy throughout December,” said Simon Murphy, CEO at Battersea Power Station Development Company.

Apple established its new UK headquarters, along with a new Apple Store, at Battersea Power Station earlier this year.

Hockney’s installation comes shortly after the launch of a landmark new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Drawing from Life, comprising portraits of some of his most important sitters from the past six decades.

 (JP Goncalves de Lima/National Portrait Gallery)
(JP Goncalves de Lima/National Portrait Gallery)

“As with all drawing from life, the success of Hockney’s portraits is very much down to his state of mind on the day,” The Independent’s critic Mark Hudson writes in his review.

“The room devoted to images of his mother begins with some unremarkable works in his coloured pencil mode, before we’re suddenly looking into her anxious eyes in a large crayon drawing from 1994, with the simply drawn but perfectly observed pursing of her lips speaking volumes about the anguish of old age.

“Throughout the show, works that are merely so-so contrast with works that are so acutely seen they fairly ping off the wall. While you might imagine that greater quality control could be the answer, that’s not the point: it’s the sense of the whole process, the realisation that no artist gets it right every time, not even Hockney – particularly, perhaps, not Hockney – that gives the show its piquant flavour.”