A NEVER before published letter from a young David Hockney referring to an exhibition of his work at Skipton Castle has gone on show at the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield.

The hand written letter from Hockney, who was an art student at the time, was sent to the visionary director of the Wakefield Art Gallery, Helen Kapp, in 1960, inviting her to come and see an exhibition of his work at Skipton Castle.

The Bradford born artist, who went on to become one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century, included a catalogue of the exhibition with his letter which was written on official Skipton Castle headed paper, believed to have been borrowed by Hockney.

In her response, Miss Kapp, who incorrectly addressed her letter to ‘David Hackney Esq’ laments the fact that Skipton was a long way from Wakefield, especially as she did not have a car.

The director went on to ask if instead she could see the pictures when they returned to Bradford after the exhibition and before Hockney returned to The Royal College of Art in London at the start of term.

The exhibition at the Desormais Art Gallery at Skipton Castle is now believed to have been Hockney’s first ever public solo exhibition. A fellow student from the Bradford College of Art, and a couple of years younger than Hockney, helped him take down his exhibition.

He wrote: “…we removed the pictures from the walls and took them downstairs to his little minivan. He loaded it in the normal way for a tight space – best ones first, poorer ones last and then discovered that he couldn’t get them all back in. Inevitably the poorest and only half-finished one was abandoned… he said how poor it was. Rather in awe of him, I agreed and watched him take it back upstairs and secrete it inside a small locker. He locked the door, opened a window and threw away the key…”

It is assumed that when the work was eventually discovered, it would have been thrown away as it was unfinished. The letter is part of The Hepworth Wakefield’s Alan Davie and David Hockney: Early Works exhibition, which throws new light on the early careers of both artists and runs until January 19, next year.

Today, Skipton Castle, managed by Fattorini’s grandson, Sebastian Fattorini, exhibits artworks in the main castle and carries out tours for visitors and schools all the year round. Re-enactments take place in the spring and summer, and the Desormais Gatehouse has recently become the home of the Dalesman magazine.