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Posts Tagged ‘Hodgkins’

Sense of self

I am re-reading “Portrait of the Artists Wife” by Barbara Anderson. My copy has this painting on the cover.


Frances Hodgkins Self portrait: still life circa 1935

I don’t really like this painting, but can’t say why. I much, much prefer Joanna Margaret Paul’s Self Portrait, Still Life series of dishes. Paul liked Hodgkins work very much although I hesitate to say ‘influenced’. Even though Hodgkins painting above would have been well-known to Paul, the obvious parallels between the paintings of the same title make me uncomfortable. Of course I didn’t know Paul, but the idea of her comparing her dishrack to Hodgkins scarves and whatnot, makes me squirm – especially if you consider this:

Works such as Frances Hodgkins’ Self Portrait Still Life c.1935 demonstrate that a self portrait may in fact bear no resemblance to its maker whatsoever, yet may still reveal much about the artist’s identity and psychological make-up. Hodgkins’ painting exemplifies a non-figurative approach to self-representation, operating as an inventive fusion of the genres of portraiture and still life. The artist depicts an assemblage of personal belongings in place of her physical presence, suggesting in her choice of objects – from a dainty pink shoe to some decorative scarves – a feminine and perhaps even narcissistic aspect of her nature.”

Maybe because I could also identify myself with a dishrack?

Then last week I bought a catalogue, Adrienne Martyn: Portraits. A Survey 1979-1987, which contained this photo.


Joanna Paul, 1981 Photographed by Adrienne Martyn

The catalogue essay by Helen Telford suggests “The portrait of Joanna (1981)…reflects on a similar theme of people confined by the role they have learned to play“.

Sheesh….

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One of the things I was looking into when I started writing this blog was artists houses and the little artistic cluster at Waikanae which is virtually on my doorstep. Walters, Schoon, Hodgkins, Angus, Page, Clairmont and now I discover Richmond all made significant work there.

Any way a while back I write that I’d located the Angus home and had taken this photo. I must now admit to a “mollie moment”. From Martin Edmond’s Luca Antara blogI got as far as page 8 before the first shock of embarrassment and shame. It was this passagealmost every ‘fact’ in the last two of those four sentences is wrong.”  Since writing the book he refers to, the full story of Mollie, the elephant that died at Ohakune had come to light. 

Yesterday I spent some time with the local council historian, Ron Prockter* who furnished me with lots of information regarding the Angus home. The great news is, that although subdivided, the gardens are largely intact and it appears the home may be too , although greatly altered. The embarrassing news was the address I had previously was completely wrong and so the photo referred to above, although vaguely interesting, has no artistic association at all. 


Rita Angus (c1942) by Theo Schoon (photo from Art New Zealand Issue 107)

Angus had the use of a beach house at Waikanae owned by her father who moved there in 1943. Schoon appears to have visited her there at least once with Gordon Walters who was his protege.” Michael Dunn – Art NZ Issue 107

Why am I so interested in this anyway? Well I like Angus’s garden paintings, as to me they have a different ‘feel’ about them. And although the Angus cottage is saved for posterity in Thorndon, I was intrigued by this little local mystery. Mr Prockter also told me that this land has a long and interesting history being a large part of the ‘Rau o te Rangi’ block named after a maori woman Te Rauoterangi, the daughter of a Ngati Toa chief. Te Rauoterangi also was known as Kahe, the name she used to sign the Treaty of Waitangi.

Now that we are definitely off South in a few months, its nice to have this story complete and I am continuing my hunt for the Page home (designed by Plischke).

*Over the Net and their “On the Road” series may be interested to know that Mr Prockter is in charge of street name approval here and there is a Hodgkins Road and Goldie Place at Waikanae.

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Ok – just what is it with artists and Waikanae? The list just keeps growing. I have been reading “Towards Aotearoa” tonight by David Eggleton and came across reference to Gordon Walters “Waikanae” and so went and found this in the Te Papa Collection.

This black and white photograph by Gordon Walters was made in the early 1940s at Waikanae. Walters was living and working in Wellington and had met Theo Schoon…The photograph was one of a series taken by Walters and Schoon on field trips to Waikanae in 1943 and 1944. The title, with its reference to ‘organic form’ and tonal values (‘black on grey’) reveals how nature could be transformed through the camera lens into almost abstract patterns”

Another example of this period by Walters is held by the Auckland Art Gallery

I guess I could add Walters and Schoon to my imaginary Waikanae exhibition then.

Eggleton’s book is an interesting look at 20th Century NZ art and I found it a refreshing change of view from Keith’s “The Big Picture”. some comparison can be found here by the way. Art News New Zealand said that “Eggleton’s ambitious jig-saw has too many missing pieces“, but I think thats just the nature of a work like this. In some places the writing is a little florid for my tastes but maybe thats the poet in author showing. Lets just say its a book I’d like to own whatever its faults.

It did remind me of a well NZ known “look-a-likie”. Part I:-


Bridesmaids (1930) Frances Hodgkins

and I would bring you Part II which is Rita Angus’ portrait of Fay and Jane Birkenshaw. BUT for some reason on searching the Te Papa website (where it is held) there is no record of it. I can understand not having the image up because bad people like me may come and copy it (smack hand) but I couldn’t find any record of it at all. A Chocolate Fish to whoever can find a reference to this painting on the Te Papa website (because I AM a bit tired right now).

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My day in the sun

Don’t expect to read anything mind expanding here today!

A friend today said they thought my theme here is “what is art?”. I have given up trying to solve that one, but its fun  exploring. I don’t actually agree with the following sentiment, but here’s one point of view…

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Stencil art – Brisbane 2007 (and I think better than the original Warhol poster)

Today my faith was also restored a little in “the art world”. I had an incredibly productive and enlightening conversation regarding some research information with an art writer. People have been so generous and approachable helping me out. So it led me on a tour to find some artists homes. I don’t know why I thought having the addresses would enable me to drive up and see these houses. (Sub)urban development hasn’t stood still for 40+ years. I guess my excitement in locating a local Plischke house relatively intact over Easter made me think it would be easy. Still I have a lot to go on for the next phase…so thanks again :-)

Its been really hard to get anywhere to see anything lately (still considering that ‘donate’ button) so I also stopped back in to the Mahara Gallery to look over the Hodgkins/Pick exhibition again. Mark Amery wrote a review in today’s DomPost that really summed up the Hodgkins work well – but hardly a mention of Pick. Personally today Summer Joys (1916) struck me. It seemed so vibrant and full of movement and what was really weird was that they way it was painted (post-impressionist?) meant that it could equally be a modern scene. I was thinking about becoming ‘involved’ with the gallery in some way but I can’t really see that I’d be much use.

I was also thinking about doing some ‘real’ art history study. I see Vic offers a graduate diploma which would be good but I haven’t really go the time right now to  go in and attend lectures so I guess I’ll stick to my self-education programme and continue to stumble along blindly. The only big advantage right now would be to give my research some ‘legitimacy’.

On that note I am still struggling with finding software to basically keep a catalogue raisonné. I have developed my own little app to do this but I hate the thought of the “perfect” software being out there all ready to go. Mind you mine is cheaper :-)

So lastly a picture relevant to today’s expedition and how I would have ideally liked my day to have been.

luncheon.jpg

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Due to a gap in my schedule I found myself at the Mahara Gallery in Waikanae at an exhibition (Part of the Arts Festival program) of Séraphine Pick  (After Image) and Frances Hodgkins (Her Idea of Heaven 1896-1921). I am NOT going to write a review because I’m no good at it, but it was good to be able to view a selection of Pick’s more recent works and see again what I think was the Artsville documentary about her that was showing. I loved the fact the Goya image of Saturn eating his child affected her in childhood as it did me.

goya.jpg

There were some confusing points which are mainly (I hope) typographical errors, which I guess is nit-picking. The website said “this exhibition presents new work [of Pick’s] made since 2006” but the list of works in the catalogue (with only 3 images in it and costing $3) has pictures dating back to 1997, while inside it reads “the earliest work in this exhibition , Looking Like Someone Else 2007″ and is actually a 1997 painting. No matter.

What I didn’t ‘get’ was why there was the “companion” exhibition of Hodgkins. Ok they are both female NZ painters, who supposedly “love the physical act of painting” and Pick was the Hodgkins fellow in 1999. To me it ends there. Oh ok, they both paint(ed)  babies. Actually Pick’s baby paintings were stunningly different and I liked all her family portraits a great deal, but that might be the mummy showing in me. Why not just fill out the gallery with some more of Pick’s work? Its not a large place and there weren’t that many Hodgkins on display ( a collection of “iconic works” grrrrrrrrr!).

The Hodgkins tie-in with Waikanae is that her sister Isobel lived near there and I believe (?) her ashes are interred in the local cemetary. Of the pictures on show, the series of 4 Douarnenez watercolours (1921), in a more modernist style were a highlight. These were drawn from the Field Collection (Isobel was married a Field).

The Mahara Gallery itself is a little weird. It’s a bit of a concrete block bunker, but they have some good shows there and you see a lot of local advertising. It would seem to have potential for much more. Maybe its the location, which might be difficult to find and is off a typical example of 1970/80s urban planning – Mahara Place – with requisite fountain and sculpture. I suspect funding and support from the council are big issues as well as management changes.

Funnily, I saw some people today that I strongly suspect had come out from Wellington for the exhibition as they looked so out of place. I hope they enjoyed the trip and the Ambrosia Patisserie too which is well worth a visit and close by the gallery (I am not getting a kick back for that comment either).

While I was at the Gallery, I picked up a Real Art Roadshow sketch pad. I am really impressed with this idea and the website is great. The artists interviews are definitely worth a look. Yet again something I missed. Although a lot of the ‘usual suspects’ were included, it was wide-ish variety.

roadshow.jpg
I’ve just realised I have written about Hodgkins and Pick without including a single image of theirs. Oh well I guess you can use google.

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