“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.”
Central area of yellow and green paint. From lower edge left and right diagonals of unequal length and density of white paint make a V shape frame for the composition. Left upper margin amorphous pale shape.
Verso yellow conservator's label 1993
Flora Scales, in conversation with M. de Lange, 1983, said that this was painted from her kitchen window at 38 Brentwood Avenue, Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand. 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.
Gretchen Albrecht correspondence to B. de Lange, 13.01.2021, “she propped open the back door [at 38 Brentwood Avenue] and sat in her little kitchen painting a lemon tree in the back garden – but the addition [to the villa] would have removed that long ago.”
“...her flat [at 38 Brentwood Avenue] was utterly sparse; a kitchen with a few things in it, her sitting room was her studio with paintings propped up on the sideboard and easel, and the garden an empty plot with one lemon tree.” – ‘The Mystical Aunt’ by Piers Westacott [the artist's great nephew], Flora Scales, The Suter Te Aratoi o Whakatū, Nelson, New Zealand, 2018, pg 33
This painting is characterised by the variety of gestural marks where the weave of the canvas is evident.
‘Flora Scales: The Woman and Her Work’ by Barbi de Lange, Art New Zealand, issue 37, 1985, pg 50 (colour)
‘A Personal Reminiscence’ by Gretchen Albrecht, Art New Zealand, issue 37, 1985, pg 52
Photos by Sam Hartnett