Frances Hodgkins: Pleasure Boats 1933 and Corfe Castle

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dc.contributor.author Tyler, Linda en
dc.date.accessioned 2018-10-07T21:46:50Z en
dc.date.issued 2018-03-05 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2292/39157 en
dc.description.abstract Enchanted by the Englishness of Bridgnorth, a market town between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury in Shropshire, Frances Hodgkins conducted one of her most successful summer painting schools there in June of 1926. Divided into a Low and High Town by the Severn, the longest river in Britain, Bridgnorth has many picturesque features: boats, a distinctive arched stone bridge, a ruined castle and the medieval Northgate. As the Great Depression deepened in the summer of 1932 and the number of registered unemployed in Britain grew to 3.5 million, Hodgkins worked hard to fulfil her contract to supply paintings to the Lefevre Gallery in St James. She set out in August 1932 with Hannah Ritchie and Ritchie’s partner Jane Saunders on a sketching holiday to Norfolk, but found the landscape too boring. Hodgkins wrote to Dorothy Selby: “leaving Tuesday morning for Bridgnorth my old love…I am tingling with impatience to get settled and at work.” It was the relationship of the river to the town that appealed to her, and she never strayed far from its banks. Hannah Ritchie later wrote, “when I was at work at Bridgnorth in 1932, F.H. made drawings further along the river bank...” Famous paintings such as the oil on canvas Sabrina’s Garden c.1934 in the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, (Sabrina is the Roman name for the River Severn) and the controversial watercolour Pleasure Garden 1932 (Christchurch Art Gallery) resulted. Looking south down the river with the High Town on the right bank, Hodgkins has composed Pleasure Boats, Bridgnorth with the boat hire cabin and its prominent signage at the centre. Her sense of humour is evident in the way that the lattice windows and door combine to form the features of a smiling face. Daring perspective tips up the foreground, the surface of the river is smudged with cloud reflections. Her skill with deft and spontaneous outlines combined with broad areas of colour is evident. Empty oar locks on the chained rowing skiff are precisely detailed while the frilled awning on the flat boat on the left is rendered more sketchily in gold and brown. The verticality of the composition is emphasised by the alignment of the boat with the green-capped tower of 18th century Anglican parish church of St Mary Magdalen, its height exaggerated in relation to the stone houses below. Two years later in 1934 when she was 63 years old, Hodgkins moved into the comfort of a centrally-heated old chapel studio in West Street in Corfe Castle, the Dorset town constructed of limestone and nestled in the chalky Purbeck Hills between Wareham and Swanage. A fine view of the ruin of the castle itself could be seen from her stone-walled garden. As she reported to the Alex McNeill Reid of the Lefevre Gallery in 1934, she painted prolifically as Corfe offered few entertainments: “I was feeling very much under the weather both physically & otherwise but have picked up wonderfully since coming here and am now doing quite good work under the spell of the place & general atmosphere of calm & simplicity…Corfe cannot in any way be called stimulating…” Painted in chalky gouache (more opaque than watercolour due to the addition of white pigment), Corfe Castle is a composite of four of the characteristic elements of the town: the ruins of the castle’s keep, village hall, inn and Anglican church. These are summarily coloured peach, blue and yellow and organised around a central shed in a very similar way to the Courtyard, Corfe 1942 (Art Gallery of New South Wales). White highlighting blooms on the surface, softening the outlines of the vegetation and buildings. Frances Hodgkins weathered the Second World War in Corfe Castle, living in the tiny village a total of 13 years until her death in 1947. As she wrote to Ree Gorer, she neither liked nor disliked the place, but was “thankful to have it & call it home”. en
dc.relation.ispartofseries The Collection of Frank and Lyn Corner, Art + Object catalogue for the auction held on Sunday 18 March at 4pm. en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. en
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.title Frances Hodgkins: Pleasure Boats 1933 and Corfe Castle en
dc.type Other en
pubs.begin-page 50 en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en
pubs.end-page 54 en
dc.rights.accessrights http://purl.org/eprint/accessRights/OpenAccess en
pubs.subtype Other en
pubs.elements-id 730517 en
pubs.org-id Arts en
pubs.org-id Humanities en
pubs.org-id Museums and Cultural Heritage en
pubs.record-created-at-source-date 2018-03-08 en


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