Frances Hodgkins European Journeys by Mary Kisler and Catherine Hammond
No Kiwi art lover’s coffee table is complete without a copy of Frances Hodgkins European Journeys!
Born in New Zealand in 1869, Frances moved to London in 1901 and by the 1920s was recognised as a leading modernist painter. She was the first New Zealand artist to receive international recognition and remains one of our most significant artists. Her career lasted nearly six decades, spanned two World Wars and immense social change.
The visual chronology details her travels, exhibitions and the evolution of her art. She lived and worked in France, Holland, Italy, Morocco, Spain and the United Kingdom. I particularly enjoyed the commentary that places her work in the cultural context of the time. For example, one chapter details her time ‘indoors’ at St Ives, England during the first World War. By 1915, restrictions banning artists from sketching outdoors were introduced along the English coastline and she found herself confined to her studio. Excerpts from letters to her family in New Zealand also help tell the story of her everyday life which she described at the time as a “Funk Hole”.
“It is rather lonely too – I have no friends here as in Paris. I find I am too modern for people down here & I am conscious of the cold eyes of distrust & disapproval by the older members of St Ives,” she wrote.
Featuring more than 100 of her paintings and drawings, European Journeys also includes photographs of Frances creating over the years. It also provides insight to her independent life, travelling the world and teaching art to financially support herself.
This stunning hardback book has been published to accompany a touring exhibition, currently in its last weeks at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Together, senior curator, Mary Kisley and research library manager, Catherine Hammond have cleverly edited this must-read art history.
Reviewer: Andrea Molloy Auckland University Press, RRP $75.00