The Women of Pumpkin Cottage


17 June, 2023
— 23 October, 2023


Whirinaki Whare Taonga


Upper Hutt, New Zealand

"Celebrate the female artists who painted at Pumpkin Cottage, led by Wellington artist and art teacher James Nairn, in and around the late 1800s. These artists were exploring impressionism, the significant new art movement, which began in Paris in the 1800s.

The women painters were few, and often had to push societal boundaries for the right to have their own practice. Their story is one of strength and determination as they sought the freedom to paint. Featuring the work of Frances Hodgkins, Dorothy Richmond, Mabel Hill, Mary Tripe and Flora Scales, among others." -

Exhibition artworks


Exhibition reviews

‘The women of Pumpkin Cottage’ by Leanne Wickham, The Post, 9 August 2023, pg 15, “Frances Hodgkins painted at Pumpkin Cottage and her story is well known: the fight for a creative career, her broken engagement and subsequent rise to become one of Britain’s leading artists. But do you know about her colleagues and fellow artists – Mary Elizabeth Richardson and Flora Scales to name a couple – all who painted at the cottage?

Scales went from socialite to near-destitute when her father ran off with his secretary. So, at the age of 40 and unmarried, she left for London, seeking independence…and freedom. She was itinerant, dependent on friends for a roof over her head and painted small works that could be moved from place to place.

She met fellow New Zealand female artists including Frances in 1931 in France and then later travelled to Munich to the cutting-edge and enlightened teaching of the Hans Hofmann Schule für Bildende Kunst. However, during WWII Scales was arrested as a British citizen and had two years of internment in a camp in France during which time her stored artworks were stolen by Nazi art raiders.

She continued to paint throughout her life, but despite her importance in a historical context, her first solo exhibition in a New Zealand public gallery was not until 1975, organised by Colin McCahon and the Auckland Art Gallery, when she was 88 years old.

The search for her stolen artwork from Paris in the early 1940s continues…It is these artists who, by their example of single-minded dedication to career, challenged the category “lady artist” with all its connotations and paved the way for the future generations of female artists to thrive.”

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