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Hodgkins, Frances Mary (New Zealand, b.1869, d.1947), Artist
Corfe Castle
1943
oil on canvas
635 x 765 mm stretcher size
21-1967
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1967 with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society.
In her later years Frances Hodgkins’s struggles to find places where she could live and paint, could find sympathetic subjects and have both the company and the solitude she needed, loomed large – for her and her friends. She spent most of the war years living at Corfe Castle on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. The Isle of Purbeck is in fact a peninsula and Corfe Castle is a towering ruin which dominates the village named after it. She first went there in 1934 to stay with a friend and former pupil, the potter Amy Krauss, then found a studio in a disused Wesleyan chapel. ‘Corfe cannot in any way be called stimulating – I could leave it without regret But I am making it “do” – And marking time till we get some weather worth calling good weather when I can get about & explore the neighbourhood. I have a Studio … central heated – very convenient.'(1)
The outline of the castle appears in many of Frances’s gouaches and here it is the square tower on the skyline; while the parish church is in the foreground. The misty colours, the golden light on the church and the flowering rose give the work a fairytale mood – like the stage setting for a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In fact staying in Corfe was often a nightmare as tanks and artillery trundled through the village on their way to the south coast and the vibrations eventually caused her studio roof to collapse. Several times she retreated to The Croft at Bradford-on-Tone in Somerset, lent to her by another good friend, Geoffrey Gorer, and made his cottage the subject of a number of beautiful works.

1. Letter to A. J. McNeill Reid, 20 December 1934, Gill, p 463

not on view

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