Sunday 20 October 2019

David Hockney: The UK has become mean-spirited

The artist said he will spend time next year in France where they are more tolerant of smoking.

David Hockney said he still feels 30 in his studio (Victoria Jones/PA)
David Hockney said he still feels 30 in his studio (Victoria Jones/PA)

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

David Hockney has said the UK has become a “mean-spirited” place and that he particularly dislikes the smoking ban.

The Yorkshire-born artist, who has lived on-and-off in Los Angeles for much of his adult life, said he plans to spend time in France next year, where smoking is more acceptable.

Speaking at the Queen Sonja Print Award at the Royal Academy of Arts, where he received the inaugural lifetime achievement award, the 81-year-old told the Press Association the prize “makes me feel old”.

Queen Sonja of Norway with David Hockney (Doug Peters/PA)

He added: “I always say in the studio I don’t feel old, I just feel 30. I do still feel 30 in my studio, that is why I stay there most of the time.

“I’m OK, when I was young of course you think you’re immortal, that is why the young smoke, they think they’re immortal. They always will.”

Reciting the poem Give Me A Doctor by WH Auden, he added: “Poets tell the truth.

“We are going to Normandy next year, I’m going to do the arrival of spring in Normandy.

“I will stay four or five months. I would point out France is a lot more smoker-friendly than England. I am still a smoker. I think it’s mean-spirited.

“The smoking ban is really mean-spirited but England is a bit now I think. The press is mean-spirited.

“I don’t care about it now I’m 80.”

Asked if he thought America was also mean-spirited, he said: “It’s getting that way but America used to be a very generous spirited place.

“I just don’t go out much, I stay at home and smoke.”

Queen Sonja of Norway with David Hockney and Emma Nishimura (Doug Peters/PA)

Hockney was presented with his award by Queen Sonja of Norway, who also handed the 2018 print award to Canadian artist Emma Nishimura.

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