Exhibitions Wellington



One of the more extraordinary stories in the history of New Zealand art is that of the rediscovery of eighty-eight-year-old Miss Helen F. V. Scales (better known as Flora Scales) after a forty years disappearance. Over this period her importance in a historical context has become considerable. About a year ago Auckland gallery directors Barry Lett and Kim Wright met Miss Scales living and painting in Auckland, after having returned unheralded from the United Kingdom. An exhibition was mounted at Auckland City Art Gallery last December (incredibly her first one-man show in a public gallery) and shown recently at the Peter McLeavey Gallery in July. Flora Scales had left New Zealand in 1928 on her second study trip to Europe. She worked at the Grand Chamiere studio in Paris and in the early 'thirties went to Munich to study at the Hans Hoffman School, returning to New Zealand again in 1934. It was at this time that Toss Woollaston met her in Nelson, and was allowed to use her notes from the Hoffman School. Wootlaston acknowledges his debt to Flora Scales in his autobiographical piece, The Faraway Hills. The extent of that debt has never been so apparent as now. In viewing a representative body of her work (forty- three paintings from 1939 to 1970) we can see the stylistic influence Miss Scales, and indirectly Hans Hoffman, had on the young Woollaston, and ultimately on his mature style. Hans Hoffman has been a seminal influence in post-war American art, and on the New York school and Jackson Pollock in particular. That his theories and techniques radically influenced one of our own important painters is entirely due to Flora Scales.