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Lubaina Himid on The Rake's Progress

Read an extract from Turner Prize winning artist Lubaina Himid where she discusses the impact Hockney and The Rake’s Progress have had on her as an artist.

What Does Love Sound Like? is an exhibition of new work by Lubaina Himid at Glyndebourne during Festival 2023.

Marking her first collaboration with an opera house, the exhibition draws on Himid’s enduring interest in the artform: ‘My work is all to do with action and something unfolding. Like in opera, the narratives in my works are not static. Opera, for me, is extraordinarily real. I love it because it’s the way I experience life’. From objects to large-scale paintings that respond directly to this season’s productions, this site-specific exhibition invites you to discover opera through the senses – to see, hear, feel, touch, move and think about opera in new and expanded ways.

Below you can read an extract from the exhibition catalogue where Himid discusses the impact Hockney and The Rake’s Progress have had on her as an artist.

The Rake’s Progress

My long-standing relationship with The Rake’s Progress centres around three men. A deep knowledge of Hogarth, his dynamic engravings and his theatrical painting series as well as his work with the Foundling Hospital have influenced my practice for over 40 years. The gesturing hands in the painting are a borrowing from Hogarth, playfully lifted and altered. A rather sketchy understanding of Stravinsky stems from an encounter with a performance at Glyndebourne in the early 1980s. I remember making an early painted wooden cut-out of the composer looking rather bad tempered in an open-necked shirt which I made during the mid 1970s. I didn’t know then how much I would eventually love his music. David Hockney was a childhood hero and his Rake’s Progress engravings from the 1960s, were in their awkward, scratchy, fragile way something wonderful to aspire to. Seeing his set and costume designs much later on stage and in the flesh – only yards from my seat in such a small opera house – was therefore doubly exciting; both intimate and astonishing.

The Rake’s Progress, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 145 x 102 cm, Courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens, London

The exhibition is on view in our Art Gallery for all visitors and, by appointment, in the Old Green Room. For all appointments and sales enquiries, please contact

To purchase a copy of the exhibition catalogue please visit our online shop. This special issue includes an introduction by Stephen Langridge, Glyndebourne’s Artistic Director, and an in-conversation on opera with Lubaina Himid and Glyndebourne’s Curator, Nerissa Taysom.

Glyndebourne are grateful to Hollybush Gardens, London, for their generous support of this exhibition.

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