'[Hockney's] process of working outdoors as a way of observing the landscape most immediately can be understood to have begun when Hockney was a student in his late teens in his native Bradford' (M. Livingstone, 'The Road Less Travelled', in exhibition catalogue, David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, London, Royal Academy, 2012, p. 31). In 1957, and his last year at Bradford School of Art, Hockney was granted the David Murray Landscape Scholarship. Along with fellow student John Loker (mentioned in the dedication on the reverse of this painting), who shared his passion for Constable, the two artists packed their paints and settled on Suffolk as their destination. They lodged in an old horseman's cottage in Kirton, and became familiar figures 'cycling around the local countryside looking for suitable views to paint or draw. They worked happily like this for a few weeks, Hockney painting small landscapes, few of which have survived, and Locker slightly larger ones, until they ran out of money' (C.S. Sykes, David Hockney, The Biography, 1937-1975, A Rake's Progress, London, 2011, p. 57).
Mr and Mrs Roe keep the general store in the village, shown in the present work. Hockney had been staying with them just before leaving for London to study at the Royal College of Art in 1959, and he painted this picture for them as a memento of his visit. Hockney's move to London would mark an important turning point in his oeuvre, as he moved away from landscape and conventional methods to embark on finding his highly original voice.