Frank Hodgkinson

Frank Hodgkinson

Last updated September 17, 2012


Painter, illustrator and cartoonist, was born in Sydney. He began painting aged 14 when a student at Fort Street Boys High. He left school at the age of 16 and was briefly apprenticed to a lithographer, then worked as a commercial artist for a short time and later freelanced as an illustrator.

In the 1930s while working fulltime, including being a cartoonist on the Sydney Daily Telegraph, he studied at the Royal Art Society School with Sydney Long and Dattilo Rubbo. He had not long completed his studies and was working in Melbourne as a press artist on the Herald in 1939 when WWII broke out. He joined up and served with the Australian Imperial Force in North Africa, Syria and New Guinea in 1940-46, being mentioned in despatches for conspicuous gallantry on the Owen Stanley Ranges.

He was appointed a captain and official war artist and sent to Borneo, where he drew and painted the Allies' assault landings at Balikpapan, which deeply affected him. After the war he went to London, 'and then on to Paris and Rome and to Madrid. Returning to Sydney after six years in Europe, Hodgkinson made abstract etchings, printed by Strom Gould.

He returned to Spain to live in 1958 after winning the inaugural Helena Rubenstein Travelling Scholarship. From then on his art became more abstract and expressionist. He lived in the USA (1961-2), Spain again (1963-67) then Italy (1967-69). He was exhibited as a Spanish artist in both Spain and at the Tate Gallery, London; in 1964 but he regularly visited Australia throughout the 1960s, where he also exhibited his work, and in 1970 became keen on rediscovering the Australian landscape and returned home permanently.

He lived in Cairns for a few months in 1971 until invited by his friend Clifton Pugh to join him at 'Dunmoochin', Pugh's property at Cottles Bridge outside Melbourne. Fellow artists working there included John Olsen, whom Hodge had got to know well in Spain, Fred Williams and Albert Tucker.

In 1976 Hodgkinson married Kate Ratten whom he had met at Pugh's and they moved to the then bush at Kenthurst. They built a home and studio and he remained there for the rest of his life. He died at home on 20 October 2001.

Sensual Banksia
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Gift of the artist in 1999.
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Untitled (from the Darling Harbour series)
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Gift of Bill and Erika Hughes in 1998.
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