So – Howard Hodgkin (sorry – Sir Howard Hodgkin).

A couple of weeks ago – Sunday evening – vegging out on the sofa and wanting to watch some TV to accompany a latish tea, I came across an accidently recorded Arena on the subject of Howard Hodgkin, the celebrated painter. I’d never heard of him, but that doesn’t mean much and, anyway, I’d started to become interested in art, so decided to give it a go.

It was a bit suspect to begin with. Howard had turned all his current work to face the wall and refused to be filmed at work. Free country and everything, but hardly great television. On the other hand, he had generously agreed to go on a licence-payer funded trip to India – Howard is a significant collector of Indian art and has drawn a lot of inspiration from India over the years.

In the end, I only half watched the programme due to simultaneously researching the painter on the net (I’ve watched it properly since). This revealed, amongst other things that Howard died earlier this year and that he had an exhibition, Absent Friends, on at the National Portrait Gallery. As the exhibition was in its final week, I decided to seize the opportunity and have a long overdue day in London.

A Picture of the Painter Howard Hodgkin (Arena, BBC 1, First broadcast Spring 2006)