‘Out of the airport, wonderful air, bright sunshine and completely flat land to the horizon. Straight out of the edges of the plain came silhouettes of hills. Then the upward ascent of thirteen numbered hairpin bends through valleys filled with betel trees, blue gum, and as we went higher still, tea. Brilliant technicolour light and then soft hill after soft hill with contour line terracing and after several false alarms, such as Wellington (a town filled with churches in all styles, including what looked like Russian) we arrive in Ooty’ (26 January 1975, journey from Coimbatore to Ooty, ‘India Journals’, Howard Hodgkin Painting India, exh.cat., Hepworth Wakefield, 2017, p.87).
Hodgkin had, however, experienced ‘somewhere else’ from an early age - he was evacuated to the United States during the Second World War (1940-43) and his instinct to become a painter was honed through visits to the Museum of Modern Art in New York where he was inspired by his first-hand experience of Picasso, Matisse and Stuart Davis.
Seen within the context of the artist’s own collection, Travelling takes on an added significance. The importance of travelling ‘somewhere else’ was undoubtedly an essential component of his life and work. But his personal collection also reveals his passion for journeying elsewhere through the kaleidoscope of objects from different geographies and histories that were brought together in his London home.
Sold to benefit the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras
Hodgkin was a great admirer of the conductor John Eliot Gardiner, who founded the Monteverdi Choir in 1964. The two men were first cousins, as John Eliot's mother Marabel was sister to Howard's father, Eliot. Howard was delighted when John Eliot chose to reproduce his work as CD covers, when he recorded the Brahms symphonies, but also saw an analogy between his paintings and Stravinsky. Howard was due to see the Monteverdi trilogy at La Fenice, Venice, in June 2017, before he fell ill.
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