The Hockneys: Never Worry What The Neighbours Think
‘The Hockneys: Never Worry What The Neighbours Think’ is a book about loving yourself, and honouring your family. Based in the Blue Mountains, John Hockney is the younger brother of celebrated artist David Hockney.
John is a creative in his own right as a musician and writer, and sibling to Paul, Philip and Margaret, who are all the subject of chapters in this book. John tenderly traces his greater genealogy in the various contexts of during and post-war Britain, emigration, fame and the banalities of daily life. He is a wonderful storyteller with a charming, but succinct voice, and has included interviews with relatives, mementos from another century from badges to ticket stubs and monochromatic portraits, letters and caring observations of relationships and behaviours amongst his family. A very special element of this chronicle is the sketches and portraits by David of family members.
The chapters dedicated to David describe the joys of childhood, interlaced with early indicators of the artist’s natural skill, eye and drive; ‘Even at eleven years old David’s only agenda was art’ writes John. Eccentric, by measure of the times, and openly homosexual, the book describes how David embodied the sage advice their father (a creative, conscientious objector) repeated to them as kids – ‘Never Worry What The Neighbours Think’. David shares the sentiment, is ‘aristocratic, not working class. I have followed it all my life.’
Readers will canvas the minutiae and milestones of David’s ongoing career, such as his early My Parents 1975 painting, work in portraiture, as well as special moments such as the National Gallery of Australia acquiring A Bigger Grand Canyon in 1999, the flamboyant opening ceremony at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, anecdotes about travels together and celebrity friendships and the story behind adopting iPad drawing (influenced by his sister Margaret who embraced technology to communicate across platforms as a deaf woman).
In a way only a brother can, John meditates on David’s dedication to work, how art took an enriching and demanding role in his life. John uses notes and diary entries throughout the text and recalls watching a life drawing session when David was 76; ‘His art is everything – his devotion.’