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Christchurch City Council Media Release 10 November, 1997


Robert McDougall Art Gallery 22 November, 1997 - 25 January, 1998

The fiftieth anniversary of the British Council and its link with New Zealand coincides this year with the fiftieth anniversary of the death of perhaps New Zealand’s most celebrated expatriate artist, Frances Hodgkins. In recognition of this, from 22 November 1997 a celebratory exhibition of Frances Hodgkins will be on display at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery with ten works loaned from the British Council’s and British Government’s art collections and selected pieces from the Robert McDougall Art Gallery’s own holdings.

“When Frances Hodgkins died in Dorset in 1947, she left behind a legacy of art achievement that was largely unrecognised in the country of her birth. The recognition that Frances Hodgkins had achieved within the international Modern movement was something that no other New Zealand artist of her generation had accomplished.” (Neil Roberts, Senior Curator - Robert McDougall Art Gallery).

There ensued a fierce debate when attempts were made in 1948 to purchase Hodgkin’s ‘Pleasure Garden’ for the city collection. The conservative anti modern art lobbyists tried to stop the purchase and this row is now a landmark in the annals of New Zealand art history.

This particular exhibition focuses on the last seventeen years of the artist’s life - a period considered to be the most important in her career. During the last 30 years of her career she became more experimental in her work and was influenced by such modern masters as Braque, Matisse and Picasso.

Frances Hodgkins made a significant contribution to British art and more than any other expatriate has demonstrated the reciprocal and beneficial relationship between New Zealand and Britain. The Robert McDougall Art Gallery is indebted to the British Council and the British High Commission for the loan of works by Frances Hodgkins which have not been seen publicly in New Zealand before. This Frances Hodgkins Commemorative exhibition is part of The Link - a year-long programme of events in 1997 to celebrate the modern and evolving relationship between Britain and New Zealand.

The Robert McDougall Art Gallery, located in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, is among the country’s most visited public art galleries featuring regularly changing exhibitions os international and New Zealand historical and contemporary art. The McDougall Art Annex, located in the Christchurch Arts Centre, features international, national and local contemporary exhibitions. Both galleries are open daily except Christmas Day and Good Friday. Hours are 10 am. to 5.30 pm. (Summer), 10 am. to 4.30 pm. (Winter). Free daily guided tours are available on request and admission is free.

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