via Sarah Hillary at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Frances Hodgkins is one of New Zealand’s most influential artists.

At the centre of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s new exhibition, Frances Hodgkins: Forgotten Still Life, is a painting which was last shown in 1959 and has undergone intensive conservation treatment at Auckland Art Gallery.  

Still Life: Anemones and Hyacinths, c1925, is a prime example of Hodgkin’s experiments with colour and pattern in the use of oil as a medium in her artistic career. The painting entered the collection of Auckland Art Gallery with severe flaking and areas of loss, particularly in the brown coloured section of the background of the painting. 

Conservator Genevieve Silvester investigated the materials of the painting by testing the solubility of the painted surface, revealing that the brown paint rapidly dissolved in water. Alongside taking very small samples of the brown background and analysing them under Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry, it became apparent that the brown background had not been applied at the same time as the rest of the work had been executed by the artist.

Treatment of the painting aimed to stabilise the flaking brown paint using Klucel G. Securing the flaking paint allowed for the yellowed varnish to be removed, revealing much brighter tones of paint and bringing the image back to life.

Frances Hodgkins: Forgotten Still Life runs from the 22 August 2015 – 15 May 2016 at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Ground level – free entry.

You can see the details of the exhibition here:

Or you can read more about Genevieve’s conservation treatment in the exhibition catalogue: