From Bradford to Belfast – David Hockney’s Art Exhibition at The MAC

In celebration of his 80th year, a grand tour of David Hockney’s work will take place. The first gallery to be graced with its presence is the stunning MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) located in the heart of Belfast.

The exhibition opened last Friday, the 19th of August and will run until the 16th October, which leaves plenty of time to catch it. It is titled ‘David Hockney: I draw, I do’ after a conversation the artist had with English designer Paul Smith some time ago. Asked whether he still draws in the same way that he did while at art school in Bradford back in the 1950’s, Hockney responded ‘I draw, I do’. The exhibition focuses on the artist’s early work while attending Bradford Regional College of Art and traces the artist’s focus on drawing up to the modern day.

The exhibition includes his iPad portraits which reflect Hockney’s desire to expand upon his existing skill using new mediums and technology. Some of the most notable pieces included in the exhibition are the Paper Pool series, his works from The Arrival of Spring of 2011, and the print series A Rakes Progress, which was created in New York in the early 1960’s and gives a nod to the 18th century artist William Hogarth & his series of the same name.


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This exhibition of 62 artworks marks the first significant exhibition of Hockney’s work in Ireland and Hugh Mulholland, senior curator at the MAC has noted Hockney’s ‘commitment to the critical importance of the act of drawing and how the early training at art school is drawn on throughout one’s creative life’. This is something the artist himself has commented on, saying that ‘ from the age of 16 to 20, all I did was really draw… So I drew for four years. I don’t know what art schools are like now, but I’m told they don’t do drawing. That seems a bit mad to me that. Drawing is going to be needed in the future.’

The discipline that Hockney developed during those formative years in Bradford is certainly evident in his more recent works, such as his The Arrival of Spring, which are stunningly vibrant yet remain true to the clean line structures of his earlier works.


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The MAC gallery is, in itself, worth visiting. It was opened just 4 years ago in April 2012 after a huge fundraising effort which drew the attention of high profile people including Meryl Streep who visited Belfast in 2007 to help give the profile of the campaign a lift. The six storey building was designed by Belfast- based ‘Young Architect of the Year’ winners Hackett Hall McKnight and came in at a cost of £18 million.

The MAC has issued a video in which you can watch some of the speakers on the opening night of the Hockney exhibition along with feedback from a handful of the patrons who attended the event.

The MAC is open 10 am to 7 pm, Monday through Sunday. However, as the MAC are expecting a large turnout for this much anticipated event, tickets are required. These can be purchased on arrival and are valid for the full day. For more details visit

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