David Hockney Illuminates London’s Battersea Power Station With Digital Christmas Trees

The celebrated 86-year-old designed the large-scale holiday displays using his iPad

David Hockney Christmas Trees
David Hockney's Bigger Christmas Trees, which will light up London’s Battersea Power Station every evening until December 25 Apple

British artist David Hockney has unveiled two digitally animated Christmas trees projected onto the 328-foot-tall chimneys of London’s Battersea Power Station. The work, titled Bigger Christmas Trees, was created on an iPad and features ten minutes of animation. 

Hockney’s festive trees first lit up at the power station, home to Apple’s new United Kingdom headquarters, on December 1 and will run every day from 5 p.m. through 10:30 p.m. until Christmas.

“It looks amazing,” writes Forbes’ David Phelan, who checked out the digital trees in person on opening night. “So amazing, I’ve momentarily forgotten how cold I am. Almost.”

The trees are made up of bright green and purple lights. At the end of the animation, text appears: “Drawn on iPad by David Hockney.”

“David is one of the world’s most important and influential artists, and we couldn’t be more excited to see his latest creation lighting up Battersea Power Station,” says Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, in a statement. “It is a privilege for us that he chooses iPad for his work, and to create this beautiful Christmas gift for the people of London.”

Bigger Christmas Trees evokes one of Hockney’s most famous works, A Bigger Splash (1967), which depicts a swimming pool at a California home just after someone has jumped into the crisp water.

David Hockney drawing Bigger Christmas Trees
David Hockney draws the design for Bigger Christmas Trees on his iPad. Jonathan Wilkinson / Apple

The Christmas installation isn’t Hockney’s first foray into digital art. In 2018, glass artists turned one of his iPad illustrations into a real stained glass window in Westminster Abbey to celebrate the reign of Elizabeth II. According to Artnet’s Verity Babbs, Hockney created over 200 artworks on his iPad during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I love to make nature look as exciting as it is, and this takes two trees and I think looks very beautiful,” Hockney tells the Independent’s Roisin O'Connor. “I will always be working to make things look pretty. And I will always be looking around me and making art.”

In addition to the illuminated trees, London art lovers can catch a Hockney exhibition, “Drawing from Life,” at the National Portrait Gallery through January 21. Additionally, an immersive show, “Bigger & Closer (Not Smaller & Further Away),” featuring projections of Hockney’s art recently wrapped up at London’s Lightroom.

Battersea Power Station is an art deco structure designed by British architect Giles Gilbert Scott and built between 1929 and 1941. At one point, the building was responsible for one-fifth of London’s power supply. Today, it’s a hub of shops, bars and restaurants. This Christmas, in addition to the new display, the power station is hosting a series of workshops, pop-ups, Christmas markets and an ice skating rink.

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