Anti-smoking’s Chapman tells UK artist to butt out
HIGH profile anti-smoking campaigner Professor Simon Chapman has called on British artist David Hockney to “stick to painting” after a brawl in the letters column of UK The Guardian.
Coverage of Professor Chapman’s trip to Britain extolling the virtues of Australia’s plain packaging legislation sparked a letter from Mr Hockney railing against people who “try and control the quiet lives of others” and who are “fanatical… haters of tobacco”.
“Why doesn’t Mr Chapman debate with a good and satisfied customer of the tobacco companies?” Mr Hockney wrote, adding he was “fed up to the teeth with people who think they really know what health is”.
Professor Chapman should debate with “someone who is not a professional agitator, who knows there is no such thing as a professional smoker but knows there are hundreds of dreary, professional, highly paid anti-smokers”, he wrote.
British artist David Hockney's painting, A Bigger Grand Canyon, now housed at Canberra National Gallery
He signed off by suggesting that living in the “centre of Bohemia” was superior to “Australian suburbia”.
In a scathing response, Professor Chapman, from the University of Sydney’s school of public health wrote that Australians whose taxes helped buy the Canberra National Gallery’s Hockney painting, A Bigger Grand Canyon, would be “devastated” to read the artist’s opinion that “they don’t cut the mustard as Bohemians”.
“Hockney’s unctuous spray about efforts to reduce tobacco-caused disease was painfully deep in personal rationalisation,” Professor Chapman wrote.
Smokers die young, he said, and others “live wretched lives for years with their lungs shredded”.
“They could not walk up gallery steps to share Hockney’s aesthetic sensibilities,” he wrote.
The letter ended: “David Hockney should stick to painting”.
Read the correspondence here: