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Hockney: Bigger and Closer (not smaller and further away) Lightroom REVIEW

I am not a huge fan of digital art experiences. If they are a way to engage reluctant kids with art in a new way, hurrah, but for me the emotional response of looking at a painting can't be replicated with whizzy tech.

Not so, the David Hockney immersive art show at Lightroom, a new space at the north end of Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross. I think this is probably because so much of Hockney's work involves photographs and collage. It's all about LOOKING at stuff in different ways. Narrated by Hockney himself, with a specially devised soundtrack, the show runs on a 50 minute loop. As we entered, we were driving through the Hollywood hills. My first thought was that is was smaller than I had imagined it would be (certainly much smaller than the Frameless space in Marble Arch. Hurtling round the hairpins, I felt positively car sick. "Everything in LA is meant to be experienced at 25mph. From a car. That's how they see things" comes Hockney's flat, dry voiceover.

He is an excellent narrator, sometimes anecdotal, at others explaining the themes behind his work. Split into six thematic sections, it's well paced and never drags. There is a good art history lesson to be had on Renaissance perspective. Yorkshire, LA, the Grand Canyon, Normandy. Maps, swimming pools, seasons - it's all here. Our favourite section was the 'Hockney Paints the Stage' series. As the brightly coloured figures for his sets for Turandot come to animated life around you to the crashing Puccini score, Hockney's stated aim that he 'wanted you to see the music' is gloriously realised.

A triumph.

Hockney: Bigger and Closer (not smaller and further away) is at the Lightroom, Kings Cross to 1 Oct. Tickets: £25 adults, £15 ages 5–18. U5s free. 15% discounted Family Tickets for selected slots.

Emily Turner


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