With fresh eyes

By Kate Hassett

With fresh eyes
Newly restored Frances Hodgkins work to be exhibited after 56 years.

Renowned New Zealand artist, the late Frances Hodgkins, has received a new lease on life as one of her paintings has been expertly restored.

The painting, entitled Still Life: Anemones & Hyacinths c1925, was kept in storage for close to 60 years at Auckland Art Gallery.

The painting was acquired by the gallery in 1956 and came into the collection originally in quite good condition. After some time though, the painting began to degrade with no suitable treatment to repair it.

However, over the past six months, conservator Genevieve Silvester, an intern from the Gallery’s Marylyn Mayo program, developed a way to transform the piece to its original glory.

“The most critical part of the treatment was to stabilise the flaking paint to prevent any further loss,” said Silvester.

The process of restoration was not a simple one. Silvester began by researching the type of paint used in the artwork in order to determine the appropriate adhesive to begin piecing the flakes back together.

She then sent samples of paint to Auckland Science Analytical Services at the University of Auckland, which identified the two types of paint used by Hodgkins.

Then, Silvester was able to place the tiny flakes back onto the surface of the painting.

“This meticulous work took more than 100 hours and was achieved under high magnification,” she said.

Silvester’s hard work payed off, as the painting is now considered in perfect condition to place on display within the Gallery.

Auckland Art Gallery Principal Conservator Sarah Hillary says, “the treatment was very challenging, but a remarkable success, and the artwork can finally be shown again to the public”.

The artwork will be exhibited as part of a greater Still Life collection.

Frances Hodgkins: Forgotten Still Life “explores the high degree of experimentation Hodgkins brought to the subject of still life”.

The exhibition will be on display from Saturday 22 August to Sunday 15 May 2016 at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

Frances Hodgkins, Still Life: Anemones & Hyacinths c1925, image after 2015 treatment

 

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