- Purchased 1981
- Oil on canvas board
- 345 x 450mm
- View on google maps
Hawkins is a small farming settlement on the Whitecliffs branch railway line, five kilometres west of Darfield, on the Canterbury Plains. Rata Lovell-Smith shows it as a place of silence and isolation, with the empty buildings and railway lines the only signs of human activity. With the foothills and Southern Alps as a backdrop, the scene has a distinct sense of place. Lovell-Smith was one of the Canterbury School of artists whose members focused on the unique aspects of the Canterbury landscape, particularly the hard, sharp light of the region. They also simplified forms and objects within their compositions.
By the early 1930s Rata Lovell-Smith was highly regarded for this area of her practice. One Christchurch reviewer in 1933 commented:
'Of the painters who direct their attention towards the essential characteristics of New Zealand scenery […] Mrs Lovell-Smith makes an extremely direct statement of her subject. She paints with a large full brush in a series of broad planes. There is nothing 'bitty' about her work. This, perhaps, is its greatest virtue, a virtue that cannot be too highly praised. She glories in the colour contrasts of the New Zealand landscape. […] There are no subtleties but a series of vivid and simplified impressions of her native country. Whereas many pictures by [other] exhibitors […] might have been painted in other countries, there can never be any doubt about the locality of Mrs Lovell- Smith's landscapes. It is as though she had never got over her first impression of violent tone and colour contrasts, and in a state of beatific astonishment had set herself to establish that impression at the expense of anything that tended to modify it.'