BC058

Untitled

[Bay, Headland]

Sea/landscape. Lower left margin yellow ochre and green brush work. Right margin green and yellow marks mingle with blue indicating water. The horizon is high at three quarters of the canvas. The shoreline and headland extend from left margin almost to right margin and a dark shape which indicates a rocky outcrop below. Upper left margin two white rectangles indicate the Pedn-Olva Hotel.

Date
1968 1970
Object type
painting
Medium and materials
oil on canvas on board
Dimensions
255x335mm
Place Made
St Ives, Cornwall, England
Inscriptions

LL ochre brush point Scales (partly concealed by frame, not fully legible)

Verso framer's label Spooners of Auckland

Details
General notes

Purchased by original owner from the artist in her Brentwood Avenue flat, Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand, 1976, just prior to the artist returning to Europe.

Dated in reference to Bay Landscape, St Ives, Cornwall [BC057].

In answer to questionnaire sent by B. de Lange 1983, original owner wrote, “I was attracted to this painting initially by the artist's very sensitive treatment and the lovely colour especially the white building and the blue of the sea…Note particularly the brushwork, delicately placed to achieve the desired effect.”

This is one of a series of paintings based on the location of the Pedn-Olva Hotel on Porthminster Beach, St Ives, Cornwall, England. Pedn-Olva means 'lookout on the headland'. The hotel is a registered navigational mark for ships which perhaps added to its attraction as a subject for Scales, with her lifelong interest in boats, ships, piers and the sea.

The location of this work was identified by British artist, Patrick Heron, an artist-in-residence at the International Art Workshop, Teschemakers Resort, Kakanui, Oamaru, New Zealand, 9 February - 1 March 1991.

This painting shows the eastern side of the Pedn-Olva Hotel, St Ives, England with the headland behind.

Diana Mills, Flora Scales’s great niece, in a letter to B. de Lange, 12.11.1983, “I visited her there in a sparsely furnished house on the side of a hill. It was jolly cold and the wind was prevented from making life completely miserable only by thick red velvet curtains. Heavy as they were they still blew at an angle into the room...I was appalled by the lack of comfort with which she lived her life.”

After the death of her mother in 1948 Flora Scales moved to Cornwall, England. Flora Scales in conversation with Janet Paul, Rotorua, New Zealand, 27 March 1979, “I went to a horrible room in Mousehole, all yellow rocks. Not a good place for painting. Back to St Ives. I lived in a little hotel on the sea front at Penzance. Had a sale and then went back to St Ives. I used to pass Barbara Hepworth's studio and could hear her hammering. She was always hammering. I didn't like to disturb her and never went in." 

The 1950s saw the burgeoning of the St Ives School of artists in England which included Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron, Roger Hilton, Peter Lanyon, Bryan Wynter and Bernard Leach. 

In her series of studies of this subject Scales may well have moved between a greater and lesser degree of abstraction making it difficult to determine in which order they were painted.

Yellow ochre and green brushwork at the lower margin create V-shapes reminiscent of the ship's rigging seen in Scales's work of the 1920s [Shipping, Wellington Harbour] [BC128]]. The dark shapes also bring to mind the agaves of the 1930s [Untitled [Mediterranean Scene] 1 [BC016]], the derricks of the 1950s [Untitled [Mousehole Cornwall 2] [BC029]] and the forked tree trunks of the late 1960s and early 1970s [Bry-sur-Marne, Orchard] [BC069]], in which this shape becomes a tool for her construction of dynamic pictorial space.

In the 1930s, the use of a V-shape as a spatial tool appeared in Scales’s work. In the 1920s Scales often painted yachts and ships and it seems she may have recognised the potential of the V-shape made by their riggings and masts and later began to incorporate the form into the vocabulary of her Modernist work following Hans Hofmann's instruction to do away with single-point perspective.

The V-shapes of the agaves, derricks and cranes, flowers, and forked orchard trees, that are such significant elements in her work during and after the 1930s, literally turn the idea of a vanishing point upside-down to suggest a space extending outwards towards the vertical edges of the canvas.

As well as the equilibrium established by the balanced vanes of the V-shape, there is also an immanent sense of movement. Hofmann said, "We have to experience the object as vital in her existence in space" (Dickey, Tina, Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hofmann, Trillistar Books, Canada, 2011, pg 27). Hofmann explained that volumes revolve on their axes to create a sense of movement and counter-movement, which animates and gives depth to the flat surface of the picture plane.

Scales's use and manipulation of the V-shape is one of several examples in her work which demonstrate the way she assimilated, and made her own, the teachings of Hans Hofmann. This example in particular shows her personal interpretation, without imitation, of his theories about the creation of plastic space, which were crucial to the development of her modernism.

Images taken from photographic transparency slides. These are the only images recorded of this work, its location is unknown.

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