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Record Image
Hodgkins, Frances Mary (New Zealand, b.1869, d.1947), Artist
Mill House, Ponterwyd
Circa 1935
gouache on paper on card
398 x 535 mm image size; 700 x 830 x 40 mm frame size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 2005 with funds from the I M Richdale Trust through the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society.
In August 1932 Frances Hodgkins had a delightful sketching holiday at Bridgnorth in Shropshire with congenial company – her old friends Hannah Ritchie and Jane Saunders, and Dorothy Selby. In mid-August, after a disappointing few weeks in Norfolk, depressed by the endlessly flat landscape, she wrote to Dorothy, ‘leaving Tuesday morning for Bridgnorth my old love …I am tingling with impatience to get settled – & at work’ … Till Thursday then – at Bridgnorth.'(1) There she was able to relax, enjoy the countryside, and draw and paint. The holiday produces several of her most luminous watercolours, including Pleasure Garden (Christchurch Art Gallery) and Pleasure Boat, Bridgnorth, both shown at her first exhibition at Lefevre Galleries in October 1933. Patterns of paint dancing across the surface of the paper give Mill House Ponterwyd a similar bright ebullience. An excursion from Bridgnorth to Ponterwyd, a pretty village in the Cambrian mountains near Aberystwyth, may have contributed to this lyrical, almost rapturous mood, although there are no letters recording such a trip and the work was not exhibited until 1937. In contrast, Through the Trees has a wintry aspect, with no particular grandeur, but Frances’s delicate colour and exquisite mark-making transport the viewer into a magical landscape tapestry. Trees and water and distant hills are glimpsed beyond a foreground of stumps and fallen branches – and even some litter.

1. Letter to Dorothy Selby, c.14 August 1932, Gill, p 454

not on view

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