Flora Scales

Born in Wellington 24 May 1887, Helen Flora Victoria Scales, known as Flora, spent her childhood in Lower Hutt. She enrolled at the Canterbury School of Art in 1903, under Mr G. Herbert Elliott and exhibited in the 1907 NZ Academy of Fine Arts annual exhibition. In 1908 she attended the Frank Calderton School of Animal painting in London and returned to NZ in 1912.
From 1914-1918 she worked as a V.A.D (Voluntary Aid Detachment) in Taumaru Military Convalescent Hospital, Lowry Bay and during this time she exhibited as a Member of the Wellington Art Club and in the NZ Academy of Fine Arts Annueal Exhibitions: 1915, 1918, 1919, 1920, as well as at the Auckland Society of Arts: 1915, 1916, 1917.
She lived with her mother and sister in Stoke, Nelson from 1921 - 1928 and working as an orchardist to supplement the family income. In her spare time she did animal paintings. After her father passed away, the small annuity she received set her free from the demands of farming and family life and she set out to fulfil her artistic ambitions, to have a serious painting career. And, at the age of 41, she headed over to France in 1928 to study life drawing at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, Paris. After which she painted in the south of France where she met Frances Hodgkins and Gwen Knight.
In 1931 she worked at the Hans Hofmann School of Art in Munich for 9 months.
In 1934 Scales returned to NZ and cared for her mothger. During this time she met M.T. Woollaston who tells of how her transmission of European ideas to him in 1934 affected his future life and work.
While in NZ she exhibited at the Suter Art Society Annual Exhibition in 1934, the NZ Academy of Fine Arts Annual Exhibition, and the NZ Society of Artist in Christchurch.
In 1936 she returned to paint in England and France, intened with British wom en in Vosges Mountains, France in 1940 but was released in 1942 to spend 2 difficult years of ill health and depirivation in Paris. In 1944 she returned to England.
From 1950-1972 she painted in London, Paris, Cornwall and the South of France.
In 1972 she returned to NZ and exhibited at the following:
1974 private exhibition in Hawkes Bay,
1975 Auckland City Art Gallery exhibition 'NZ Women Painters',
1976 Had a solo exhibition at Auckland City Art Gallery, of 43 paintings, also shown work at Govett-Brewster Gallery, Sarjeant Gallery and Peter McLeavey Gallery.
In 1978 she took up residence in the Masonic Village in Rotorua and passed away in Rotorua on 11 Jan 1985 aged 97 years.
She is remembered for her legacy to NZ art in the theoretical foundation she provided for art in the 1940s, the work in public and private collections, and in the example she provided of professionalism in her lifestyle and work. In Gretchen Albrecht's words after seeing her exhibition at Auckland City Art Gallery in 1976 "The work of a woman following her own pather [...] the work of a woman in the tradition of Delaunay [-Terk], Modersohn-Becker and Hodgkins. [...] she was living proof that painting could stand at the core of a woman's life and sustain her through everything" (Albrecht in conversation with Linda Gill and Barbi de Lange, 30/3/1983)

Reference is article with publishing date and publication unknown (probably in Art NZ) written by Barbi deLange, pp 48-51 + artist chronology (publication details unknown)
b.1887, d.1985
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Works by this Artist