Work of Geraldine artist
Esther Hope (nee Barker) is one of New Zealand’s most prominent water colour painters and features in most of the country’s galleries.
Born in Woodbury near Geraldine, she was introduced to art by her mother Emily Studholme and went on to study art under Margaret Stoddart in 1907. Stoddart introduced Hope to the work of James Whistler and encouraged Hope to get inspiration from the natural world and landscape environment.
In 1912 Hope travelled to England and at the outbreak of WWI she was in Brittany with a group of artists. In 1919 she returned to New Zealand and married Henry Norman Hope and they made their home at Grampians Station in the Mackenzie Country. They retired to Timaru in 1956.
In the painting below, Hope has captured the human viewpoint of the white gum tree. The full canopy has been cut from the frame of the paper. This is in vast contrast to her Mackenzie landscape scenes which she is well known for; these often depict large open space panoramas.
Hope is a master of watercolour. Here she has applied thick colourful purples, blues and greens, which bring the white gum accent in focus and centre. Her brushstrokes are visible and rich in mark making. The vibrant coloured purple and muted brown shadows fill the background in blocks of colour, giving an overall relaxed, loose feeling. There is an almost abstract arrangement of the light gum trunk in contrast to the shadowy shapes behind.
This work is on display as part of the Alluring Shores Exhibition which highlights New Zealand artists who travelled overseas to help expand their artistic practices.