Thursday, 6 December 2012

More on the hat

The comment attached to my last posting, by Keith Fitton, prompted me to look back at the photo archive. In the period during which I first met Dave - 1966 onward - he was rapidly developing all sorts of inspiring work on the theme of Van Gogh. By 1968 Dave was working on a series of ambitious pieces based on some of Vincent's most iconic works. Today these would be called environmental or immersive pieces but, whatever you call them, they were papier-mâché and wood re-imaginings of, for example, Van Gogh's Bedroom, or the Road to Tarascon, which is the piece shown above. 

Dave's father was a tailor and he made the suit (and hat) - it's Dave himself wearing this in the photograph. There was a blue suit too, and a hat with candles, and there are few photographs in bad condition with me wearing the blue suit and hat (burning) alongside Dave in his yellow. 

The hat iconography grew out of this period - including that hat with candles - and Dave continued to use this distinctive feature of a yellow man (Vincent), and a blue man (perhaps from the friendship with Paul Gauguin) in series after series of paintings and prints. I think this identification was partly inspired by Sidney Nolan's 'Ned Kelly' series, where Kelly was always depicted wearing his odd letter-box iron mask. If my memory serves me well there was an exhibition of Nolan's work at, of all places, Accrington's Howarth Art Gallery, where we saw the Kelly series, and it was much discussed. 

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