[Three Trees]

Landscape showing three Norfolk Island Pine trees. Irregular band of green lower margin. Higher band of very thinly applied blue and brown paint. Cone shapes of trees, dark green blurred, shadowy effect.

Object type
Medium and materials
oil on canvas
Place Made
Auckland, New Zealand

LR blue brush point Scales

Condition Report

Pinholes evident upper left and right corners

General notes

Title and date according to the subject which is the view from her flat at 38 Brentwood Avenue, Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand. Also dated in relation to View from Dominion Road [BC087] and Three Trees Brentwood Avenue [BC088], both of the same subject. This is a smaller canvas and, unlike the other two paintings, is in a portrait format.

Scales lived in this Mt Eden address 1975-1978 after she arrived in Auckland from Dunedin. During this time her major solo exhibition, Helen F.V. Scales, was held at the Auckland City Art Gallery. Scales returned to France in late 1976 for a few months before returning again to the Brentwood Avenue address in May 1977. She resided there until 26 October 1978 when she moved to the Rotorua Masonic Village until just before her death in January 1985.

Flora Scales’s life as an artist in New Zealand in the late 1970s was frequently disrupted by bouts of ill health. Noting her frustration, a visitor to her flat in Mt Eden looked out of the window and said, “paint that”, resulting in the series of three known paintings based on the trees beyond the Dominion Road flyover, Mt Eden, Auckland [View from Dominion Road [BC087], Three Trees Brentwood Avenue [BC088], Untitled [Three Trees] [BC089]]. Scales described the view in conversation with M. de Lange, 1983 as “…a stone wall with a road on top.”

Used as illustration

‘Flora Scales: The Woman and Her Work’ by Barbi de Lange, Art New Zealand, issue 37, 1985, pg 50 (colour)


‘Flora Scales: The Woman and Her Work’ by Barbi de Lange, Art New Zealand, issue 37, 1985, pg 51

"The Three Trees [Untitled [Three Trees] [BC089]] is one of several studies of the subject, painted from a window of her Mt Eden flat in 1975/6. It shows where the disciplined search for formal solutions to problems in painting has led Flora Scales by the age of 88.

Her work has become more painterly and free. Her concern with the process of realising the image rather than with a polished final product, can be seen in the overpainted, rubbed and scratched areas, revealing evidence of her hand energetically at work. These structure-seeking gestural effects, the high degree of integration in colour and composition, and the stringent reduction of form, combine to produce a kinetic effect of planes shimmering and vibrating on the canvas."

‘A Personal Reminiscence’ by Gretchen Albrecht, Art New Zealand, issue 37, 1985, pg 52

“Here, as with all Helen’s past rented rooms, boarding houses and flats, the immediate environment provided her with subject-matter. In Mt Eden, the view out the back door off the kitchen towards the green lawn and lemon tree [Untitled [Lemon Tree] [BC086]], was available to paint in summer. And, when it got too cold to keep the door propped open and winter set in, the view from the dining room window, framed by white nylon curtains, of three macrocarpas [Untitled [Three Trees] [BC089]] and the Dominion Road flyover, was tackled. The neighbour’s Siamese cat [Untitled [Cat no. 1] [BC082], Untitled [Cat no. 2] [BC083]] luxuriating in front of the small electric heater bar produced some fine paintings, and, always, there was a still life or flowers being worked on. These paintings were all small in size, done on commercially primed pieces of canvas and painstakingly fastened with drawing pins hammered in around the edges of the wooden frames, which she re-used constantly, removing the finished painting and tacking on a fresh piece of canvas.”


Photos by Sam Hartnett

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