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The secret of David Hockney’s tomato sandwich

1 February 2019

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

David Hockney has received the Ridley Scott treatment. Yes, you read that correctly: Britain’s most famous artist is the star of a new film by the director of Blade Runner, Alien and Thelma and Louise. 

Sadly, the picture in question – a documentary short commissioned by the pair’s alma mater, the Royal College of Art – does not see the octogenarian painter doing anything so cinematic as driving off a cliff or spawning a prosthetic extra-terrestrial, but it does feature some highly quotable material on his time at the RCA.

In the course of the interview, Hockney recalls his first experiences of London:

You know, they used to mock my accent when I was first at the Royal College of Art. They’d come up and say, ‘Trouble at mill, Mr Ormonroid?’, stuff like that. And I used to think, well, if I drew like [them] I’d keep my mouth shut.

On his friendship with Ridley Scott, then at the RCA’s graphic design school, Hockey says:

I got to know Ridley because he came in the painting school to look around and I’d say: ‘oh what, stealing ideas, or something?’

And, most revealingly, the artist remembers his formative trips to the V&A:

The V&A was, it was rather good. I do remember though, sometimes if you bought a tomato sandwich, I’d keep it and then if you went back to the RCA another way, there was a corridor with these wooden sculptures and there was one of Christ with his wound and we’d put this tomato sandwich in the wound to make it more real, as I’m sure it was at one time. And sometimes it’d be there for two or three days, nobody’d noticed.

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