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Auckland Art Gallery to launch collaboration with fashion designer Karen Walker

Published: 1 November 2018
Karen Walker views painting by Frances Hodgkins.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and leading fashion designer Karen Walker are working in partnership on a new artwork-inspired range of collectable accessories, Frances Hodgkins: Framed by Karen Walker.

In celebration of the gallery’s upcoming major exhibition, Frances Hodgkins: Her European Journeys, Karen’s designs draw upon the modernist works of New Zealand artist Frances Hodgkins – one of the early 20th-century’s trailblazers and recently included, alongside Karen, in the NZ Herald’s list of ‘Trailblazers: 125 Kiwi Women Who Changed the World’.

To create the range, over the past four months, Karen Walker has been granted exclusive access to the gallery’s collection of Hodgkins’ artwork - the largest collection of the artist’s work in the world.

From these paintings, Karen has produced exclusive travel-inspired accessories reflecting Hodgkins’ nomadic and adventurous lifestyle which was ground-breaking for New Zealand women at that time.

"Frances Hodgkins was the original 'Runaway Girl'," Karen says.

"Her life was full of purpose, adventure and independence. Our work has always been inspired by strong female stories and women with outsider points of view and adventurous spirits.

"It’s been an honour to be invited by the gallery to get up-close with Frances Hodgkins’ work and to reinterpret some of her most-beloved pieces through our own lens."

Karen Walker and Mary Kisler.
Karen Walker and Mary Kisler.

Mary Kisler, Senior Curator, International Art at Auckland Art Gallery and curator of Frances Hodgkins: Her European Journeys says: "Throughout her life, Frances Hodgkins was extremely interested in fashion. Her letters to her family in New Zealand kept them up to date with the latest styles, and she worked in 1926 as a fabric designer in Manchester.

"Her most radical paintings are fashion-focused self-portraits combined with still-life in which she intertwines favourite fabrics, hats, shoes and objects.

"It’s especially rewarding to see the gallery’s superb collection of Hodgkins’ work activated through this collaboration with Karen, and to know they have the same visual appeal now as they did when they were designed."

The exhibition, Frances Hodgkins: Her European Journeys, will open Saturday 4 May 2019 and trace Hodgkins’ creative and peripatetic life, from her upbringing in Dunedin, and travels through France, Morocco and Spain to England. It will examine the influence of location on her development as a modernist painter and the notion of travel and journeying as a source of artistic inspiration.

Frances Hodgkins: Framed by Karen Walker will be available from May 2019.

Read more:

Fashion Arts Exhibition