“Given the slightness of this exhibition, the case for Flora Scales must rest. That the connection between Scales and Woollaston is considered significant, is evidenced by the heavy institutional buying from the exhibition. Twelve works were sold, for instance, during two weeks in Wellington. As a result of the exhibition, Ms Scales' work was purchased (at starting prices of around the $300 mark) by the Auckland City Art Gallery, the Robert McDougall Gallery, Govett-Brewster and the National Art Gallery. Private collectors in Auckland and Wellington paid the price. The Hocken Library acquired a 1939 work, Greniar, St Tropez, Southern France [BC024], which shows a persuasive affinity with some of McCahon's landscapes of around 1940, and Boarding House, St lves, Cornwall [BC060], 1968-70.”
[Graniers], St Tropez, Southern France
Landscape. Left side of canvas body of water. Lower right two posts. Right margin patches of colour suggest vegetation. Trees and buildings silhouetted against sky. Mid canvas promontory extends towards left margin. Foreground beach, rock at far side of bay. Right of centre beach huts.
LL yellow brush point H Scales
LR smudged brown brush point Flora Scales 1939
Verso (not in artist's hand) Greniar [sic], St Tropez, Southern France, 1939, oil on canvas, 330 x 410, Flora Scales.
Verso yellow gallery sticker
Verso 3x gallery stamp
Purchased by Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Library, Dunedin, New Zealand, with the assistance of a subsidy from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand, from Peter McLeavey Gallery, Wellington, July 1976, when it toured there from the Auckland City Art Gallery exhibition, Helen F V Scales, 1975-1976
Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Library
Dunedin, New Zealand
Title supplied by the artist for Auckland City Art Gallery, New Zealand, exhibition, Helen F V Scales, 1975-1976. Listed as artwork no. 2 in this exhibition.
Correspondence from T. P. Garrity, Curator of Pictures, Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Library, Dunedin, New Zealand, to B. de Lange, 24 June 1991, “As far as we can make out the date of Scales' Greniar is indeed 1939. Though faint and slightly fragmented, the brush strokes are just readable. But with some effort, the last figure could just conceivably be perceived as a careless five – a sort of letter S without much of a bottom curve…” The letter continues with an approximation of the appearance of the date to show how difficult it is to be totally accurate, and adds, “the 'nine' is [very] faint and practically the same colour as the ground. Magnification is no help.”
The signatures on this work are also difficult to decipher.
It is possible that this painting was brought back to New Zealand by Flora Scales's sister, Mrs Marjorie Hamersley, when she and her husband visited Scales in St Tropez in 1939 after the wedding of her daughter, Patience, in Malta.
This assumption is based on the fact that this painting, along with Mediterranean Village [BC019], Untitled [Basilica and Lighthouse, St Tropez] [BC020], Basilica and Lighthouse, St Tropez, Southern France [BC021], St Tropez [BC022] and St Tropez [BC023], was safely in New Zealand by 1942 when Scales discovered the loss of potentially hundreds of artworks stored in Paris, plundered by Nazis.
This is a view over Plage des Graniers, 1km from the old town of St Tropez, France, across the Baie des Canebiers to the Cap St Pierre. Closely related to St Tropez [BC023].
In this painting Scales has used increasingly abstract coloured planes to convey the depth and density of the vegetation compared to the blue space of the sea.
‘Flora's Grapes are Trod’ by Alan Brunton, Spleen, no. 5, September 1976
Exhibition notes by Louise Sinclair, From the Thames to the Nile, Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Library, 1997
“This exhibition includes works from selected first generation expatriate artists with particular emphasis on subjects which indicate the geographical breadth of their European and North African journeys.”
'Art Scene' by Richard Dingwall, Otago Daily Times, 22.07.1997, pg 10
“Meanwhile at the The Hocken Gallery, a new exhibition of selections from the collection looks at work produced by New Zealand artists abroad...Among the unfamiliar works are two wonderful paintings by Flora Scales. Scales is well-known in New Zealand art history because of her brief contact with Toss Woollaston and the notes she gave him to copy when she attended the Hans Hofmann School in Munich. This does her the injustice of ignoring her own remarkable work.
The earlier of the two [Greniar [Graniers], St Tropez, Southern France [BC024]] shows how advanced her own work was as early as 1938. Even better is the work of her late maturity St Michael [BC041], which has recently come into the Hocken collection from the estate of the late Patricia France, a view of St Michel. Much of the artist's early work was lost in a fire and she spent many years living abroad. This has led to her work being less well known than it deserves.”
The Critic, August, 1997
“The works in this exhibition are predominantly from the 1900s to the 1930s. The title indicates what 'abroad' meant to these artists: Europe and North Africa. The exhibition offers insights into the cultural attitudes of New Zealanders earlier this century. Many artists felt isolated and undervalued here in a time when national cultural identity was in its formative stages, pakeha New Zealand looked back to Europe...The works themselves show the influence of modernist movements – impressionism, expressionism, cubism – albeit somewhat later than when they were 'cutting edge' in Europe. They are mostly landscapes, sometimes peopled, offering something more studied than a tourist snap.”