Figs"What Hopkinson does that a camera can't is offer a vicarious, deeply penetrating meditation on the object. When we look at a leaf during the course of the ordinary round we perhaps give it a moment's reflection. The same is largely true if we look at a photo of a leaf. But in a Hopkinson rendering we're hypnotised - because we know a human soul has exerted itself to grasp the leaf’s every matrix of form and colour, to crawl painstakingly over its contours and tonal relationships and present it to us, so that we may critically see it as if for the first time.

This meditative power extends to her treatment of what we might call the 'individual in the mass'; in a group of similar objects such as 25 grapes in a bunch or 120 petals in a bunch of flowers, every grape, every petal, will have its own absolutely distinct outline, form and character, and not only that but will occupy an absolutely locatable point in space in relation to the others.

Often, the still-lifes are set up with the objects being placed within their own little 'stage sets' partly made from simple walls and floors of blank card and paper chosen for their optimal colour/tone relationships with the objects. The inclusion of these cards and papers demonstrates a dissatisfaction with the tabletops and the walls to hand. Crucially, satisfaction is not then sought through recourse to other still-life ‘characters’ such as drapes or cabinets, but by a nakedly 'non-character' object - the blank card, which acts as an abstract intrusion and a definite statement of rejection of the existing background in a way that drapery isn't.  Also, unlike fabric or a piece of finely-grained wood, the blank card or paper adds no extra beauty to the set-up beyond a mere improvement of the colour-relationship between the hero-objects and their background. Yet, in what is almost a delightfully perverse act, Hopkinson goes on to paint these smooth blank pieces of paper with the whole force of her observational power, such that one is mesmerised – when one finally notices them - by the infinitesimal shadows lining their edges.

With such gambits the artist brings a distinct modernity to techniques that look like they were learned in the shop of a 17th Century master. To my mind, it is not overstating the case to say that the sheer power of this artist’s concentration leads Hopkinson to heights traversed usually only by the master painters of previous centuries. Such glory is unattainable to all but those with the most finely-developed sensitivity to how colour works, how tone works. In the realist school, many living artists can draw, but very few have grasped colour and tone to the degree seen here. With this artist it is as though a 17th century master has returned and re-invented his art in the light of modernity while preserving his miraculous skill."

Steven C. Harvey, Athens, 2013


Fig. 1."Deep in conversation, we are walking down a lane close to her studio in early summer, when the artist suddenly reaches for an overhanging branch. To me this looks like any other overgrown foliage. To Hopkinson, this is a source of material for her work – fruits in abundance, seasonal, natural and wild. Damsons and quince, medlars, plums of vintage breed – all of them bear the marks and bloom of nature and none of them the waxy gloss of packaged produce.

It is interesting to see therefore how such a cornucopia of lush complexity is transformed first through identification, then by conscious selection in painting, into a singular object of quite ethereal beauty. And this process is not confined to organic forms. From a number of objects, assembled and cared for over many years, the artist draws inspiration for her work. This is no collection of clichéd still life articles, to be combined in some readily acceptable manner. These are very individual items, treasured in many different ways and utilised in a very particular manner in her paintings.

Each object holds the centre ground and therefore our full attention. Its placement on the panel and considered relationship to the edge, the use of symmetry and repetition and the consummate skill in its execution mark this work out as quite extraordinary. This is still life at a rarely experienced level.

These are essentially modern paintings – cool, dispassionate, beautifully composed and observed with stunning clarity. Hopkinson is a thoroughly prepared and well–informed artist – brave enough to follow her instincts and not be deterred by slighter fashion. She is cognizant and respectful of classical tradition but not in awe of it. Her mentors are clearly appreciated and understood through years of study – Velazquez, Caravaggio, Manet, Chardin, Morandi et al have each held sway – but their influence is now indirect, absorbed, retained in the subconscious. There is no attempt here at copying anyone, or seeking security by identification with a particular tradition. These are pure, fresh statements, captured with utter conviction and certainty of touch. They are the result of hour upon hour of direct observation, of looking extremely hard until the truth is perceived and established. If Hopkinson works within any tradition it is this: her work is the product of the sort of intensive search that was once the hallmark of good figurative painting. And this is exactly what makes her paintings such compelling statements; the more one looks at them, the more they feed back. It is the summation, the quintessence of the subject that is so inspiring – what else could draw one to look in such fascination at the simplest of objects, again and again, and still come back for more?"

Jeff Stultiens


Fig. 2.