At home: The Interior World of Patricia France


6 June, 2009
— 25 July, 2009


Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Library


Dunedin, New Zealand

Introductory panel, At home: The Interior World of Patricia France:
The elaborately decorated interior of Patricia France’s gracious wooden villa at 396 Highgate, Dunedin was an expression of her warm and charming personality. Gary Blackman’s photographs of this house, where Patricia lived from 1966 until her death in 1995, capture her warmth and provide an insight into Patricia’s private world by recording the art, personal effects and furnishings that she collected over the years.

Her home, of lovingly placed and deliberately arranged objects, was also the setting for many convivial, evening gatherings. The artworks on the walls of her house, some of them visible in Blackman’s photographs and others on display in this exhibition, are an indication of the artists that she entertained there and with whom she became friends. Rodney Kennedy, Colin McCahon, Ralph Hotere and Jeffrey Harris were among her many companions. Blackman’s eloquent images of the interior of Patricia’s Highgate villa also reveal her interest and early training in interior design.

Patricia France was born in Auckland in 1911. At the age of sixteen she visited Paris. Initially conceived as an opportunity to ‘finish’ her education, the trip resulted in Patricia attending the recently established New York School of Interior Design from 1928-1930 where she took classes in architectural drawing, life drawing and painting. Several drawings of interiors that are on show here, including a perspective elevation, a drawing of an eighteenth century commode and two charming interior studies in watercolour, were completed during her time in France.

She moved to Dunedin in the 1960s and took up painting at the age of fifty-five while undergoing psychiatric counselling at Dunedin’s Ashburn Hall. She bequeathed forty-seven artworks to the Hocken, including three paintings she had done herself.

Exhibition artworks

Related images