David Hockney had to be rescued by firefighters after becoming trapped in an overcrowded lift with a group of journalists.
The incident took place at the Conservatorium hotel in Amsterdam, when the veteran painter was on his way to have a cigarette before a scheduled interview with James Naughtie of BBC Radio 4. A group of journalists carrying heavy equipment including a Dutch cameraman and New York Times correspondent entered the lift alongside Hockney and the lift suddenly stopped.
Naughtie was also trapped in the lift and described the events on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘We were coming down in David Hockney’s hotel next to the Van Gogh Museum so that we could find a quiet spot for the interview.’
‘A little crowd packed into the lift… It jerked to a halt, stuck. We pressed the alarm, nothing…’
‘Someone suggested pushing in the ceiling, because that’s what happens in the movies when people climb out by scrambling up the metal wires.’
The group was eventually freed after Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig, a friend of the artist, instructed the hotel to call firefighters. The door was prised open and bottles of water and a fold-up chair were passed to the unfortunate group. After about half an hour, Hockney and the group of journalists were freed.
Upon his escape, the Mail reported that Hockney declined a glass of whisky and instead asked for a cup of Yorkshire tea.
Hockney was in Amsterdam for the opening of a new exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum which explores the influence of the Dutch master on his work, and the artists’s ways of looking at the world. Prior to his episode in the lift, Hockney spoke about his enthusiasm for Van Gogh, and recalled seeing his work for the first time aged 16: ‘It was the colour I remember. I had never seen paintings like that before really. Real ones, not looking in a book.’