Port of Weymouth Bay

An elaborate architectural structure with blue roof and turret tops. A pier extends into the water. Two cranes on wharf behind the pier. Beach and curve of bay. Rectangle of green right upper margin.

Object type
Medium and materials
oil on board
Place Made
Dorset, England

Verso (in M. Hamersley’s hand) Port of Weymouth Bay from hotel where mother stayed in 1945. 8/9/1945 Hamersley


Donated to the The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, by M. Hamersley, 1971

Copyright Licence
Courtesy The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Current Collection

The Dowse Art Museum

Current Location

Lower Hutt, New Zealand

General notes

Donated to the Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, by Mrs Marjorie Hamersley, Flora Scales's sister, in 1971. The verso text was written by Mrs Hamersley recording the visit Flora Scales and her mother, Mrs Gertrude Scales, paid to Weymouth, England, in 1945. Preston Church [BC102] was probably painted during this visit to Dorset as well.

This is the earliest painting from the South of England so far located, although Scales, in conversation with Marjorie de Lange, 1984, recalled having been to Cornwall before the winter of 1931 and had met “kind Mr Stanhope Forbes [1857-1945] and his lovely wife in their home above Newlyn village.” Forbes, she said, came down to give classes in a studio overlooking the sea.

Correspondence Daniel Ling, Librarian, Weymouth Library, Dorset, England, to B. de Lange, 24.03.2020, having been sent a photograph of Scales's painting, “I have had a look through some local history books…I believe it [Port of Weymouth Bay [BC025]] is the Pavilion Theatre which is located at the start of what I would refer to as the 'wooden' pier (as opposed to the stone pier opposite) and is right next to what was the 'port' area. The shape is accurate to the painting, as is the shape of the pier behind, if you were looking from the beach side. Also of note,…are the cranes behind the pier, which would have been for loading/unloading of boats. In my time the pavilion has not looked like this. There was a fire in 1954 – it must have been rebuilt at some point, which I hadn't realised. I also didn't immediately think of the cranes relating to goods transport as the port has only been used for fishing/pleasure vessels in the harbour and people/car transport when the ferry was still running.”

Used as illustration

Little Landscapes (catalogue), The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, 1990 (colour)


'Little Landscapes' by Lucy Alcock (curator), Little Landscapes (catalogue), The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, 1990

“In the collection of the Dowse Art Museum are a number of small, rarely exhibited landscapes...Among this selection are two very fine oil paintings by Flora Scales (1887 - 1985) which were presented to the Dowse in 1971 by Flora Scales' sister and niece, Mrs Marjorie Hamersley and Mrs Patience Tennent...

Port of Weymouth Bay [BC025] is a fine example of this developing style. Although the overall impression of the painting is atmospheric and evocative, the industrial shapes of the Port are strong and distinct; they do not get lost in the evanescence. Beneath even the most delicate brushwork the artist communicates a sound knowledge of and interest in the formal shapes and volumes of the subject. Her paintings hover between representing a decipherable scene and having as their primary motivation the immediate delight and frustration of painting; her soft mottled tones and colours blend together with a sumptuousness that is reminiscent of Bonnard. She preferred to paint the European landscape because of its colour, for she found New Zealand a little "too green".1

Port of Weymouth Bay [BC025] dates from 1945, the year after Flora Scales returned to England after having spent two years during the war interned with British women in the Vosges mountains in France, followed by two years of "ill health and deprivation in Paris".2 On the reverse of this painting an inscription reads "From the hotel where mother stayed in 1945" linking it from the history of art back into the personal history of Flora Scales. She was a dedicated professional artist who committed herself to painting yet she rarely sought public attention or acknowledgement for her work. The Dowse Art Museum is most fortunate to have been gifted these paintings by her family.

1. P Tennent, conversation with author, April 1990
2. de Lange, Art New Zealand No. 37 (Summer 1985-86) p 53”

Unidentified newspaper review of Little Landscapes, The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, 1990

"The show features thirty small, rarely exhibited landscapes from the Dowse's permanent collection....curator Lucy Alcock says ‘They do not only depict the New Zealand landscape, but also countries artists had come from before they settled here, and countries they inevitably travelled to in search of a more sympathetic artistic environment.' The majority of the works were gifted to the Dowse when it first opened in 1971. Two very fine oil paintings by Flora Scales were given by her family [the other Mediterranean Village [BC019]]. Scales spent her early years overseas to further her training as the tuition then available here was rather limited and generally traditional.”

Introduction by curator, Sian van Dyk, for Reverie: Contemplative Paintings from the Collection, The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, 2014

“This selection of works from the Dowse Collection gathers together artists who meditate on the world around them through their painting.  However, rather than making perfect copies of what they see, each artist accentuates a certain quality or feeling they associate with their subject…In showing their own personal vision through their contemplative painting, these artists reveal the beauty and emotion that can be drawn out of day to day living.”

‘Flora Scales’ Flicker’ by Luke Smythe, written for florascales.com, 2023

“Greniar [Greniar [Graniers], St Tropez, Southern France [BC024]] offers evidence of Scales’ increasing independence, which would strengthen further following the war. From the mid-1940s, her imagery became softer still and her paint application thinned to the extreme. Initially, in works like Port of Weymouth Bay [BC025] (1945) and Untitled [Mousehole, Cornwall 2] [BC029] (ca. 1950-59), she built scenes around a contrast between canted three-dimensional motifs, like boats and buildings, and a hazy, often gold-tinged environment. Once complete, these compositions appeared to have been painted in two registers: the first flat and the second volumetric.

As time wore on, however, this spatial disjunction disappeared, and by the early 1960s, the buildings that still featured in her landscapes had become as indistinct as their surroundings."


Photos by Shaun Waugh

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