Film tells the story of reluctant Frances Hodgkins sitter




Frances-Hodgkins, The goose girl, 1905. 


Courtesy of the Field Collection Trust.


Paraparaumu’s Red Capewell may now be in her ‘80s but age hasn’t dimmed her recollection of the time her mother-in-law, Alice, was asked by our most acclaimed expatriate painter, Frances Hodgkins to sit for two paintings.

Red tells the story in a new short film, Alice’s Secret, produced by Mahara Gallery.

When Frances Hodgkins and her friend Dorothy Kate Richmond came to Paraparaumu on a painting holiday in 1905, they looked for someone to carry their equipment.

“Frances was told to go across the road to the Berretti house because there were four girls there and surely one of them could carry her easel,” says Red Capewell in the film.

“Well, she knocked on the door and Alice Berretti answered and she had her hair all tucked up in a tam ‘o shanter – beautiful, Italian, auburn hair. But she didn’t like it because she got teased.”

When Frances Hodgkins saw the hair she told Alice that she wanted to paint her. The result was Babette, now held in the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt and Goose Girl, one of the best known of Frances Hodgkins’ works held in the Kāpiti-based Field Collection.

The film gets its title from Alice’s reluctance to tell anybody about the sittings. The family didn’t find out until a gathering to celebrate Alice’s 70th birthday.
Alice’s Secret has been written and directed by Kevin Ramshaw and filmed and edited by Dean Hapeta of Kia Kaha Productions.