Women in New Zealand Society 1884 - 1958


17 May, 1985
— 21 July, 1985


The Dowse Art Museum


Lower Hutt, New Zealand

This exhibition, co-sponsored by Unilever New Zealand Ltd. and curated by James Mack, was part of the centenary of Sunlight Soap, and celebrated the end of the International Decade of Women, 1976-1985.

“The exhibition seems to have been focused on the changing role of women in NZ Society over the period of time covered. The Dowse solicited photographs, objects and stories from women in the community to form the basis of the exhibition. All of the exhibition lists and loan information in the four volumes relates to this type of material with a focus on the domestic life of women. There are also a number of oral history transcriptions on this theme. My understanding is that this exhibition was photograph, object, and possibly sound based, rather than containing any paintings, and that it focused on domestic life and women in the home and moving into work.

Flora Scales features in the exhibition only in the form of a timeline, which includes key NZ women, including artists, activists, and leaders. Each woman marks a year, with intervals where key events that related to women are interspersed…The size and format of the timeline indicate it may have been available as supplementary written material for visitors to the exhibition.  I have also attached the first page of this timeline of biographies which gives a sense of the type of material the exhibition focused on [see Related images].” – Laura Jamieson, Senior Advisor, Archives, Hutt City Council, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, 2021

Flora Scales represented the year 1932. The exhibition included brief biographical notes and a portrait photograph. No art works were physically displayed.

Five contemporary women artists were invited to exhibit work - Gretchen Albrecht, Ans Westra, Janet Bayly, Charo Oquet and Jan White.

Exhibition reviews

‘Dowse display celebrates 100 years of womanhood’ by Michael Elphick, Evening Post, 15 July 1985, “Lower Hutt artist the late Flora Scales [Flora Scales died 11 January 1985] is also featured and there is a biography of contemporary Maori writer Keri Hulme, from the West Coast.”

‘Women rise beyond suds regime’ by Ian Wedde, Evening Post, 30 July 1985, “Among a great many others, I was moved to encounter portraits also of Flora Scales, Robin Hyde, Alexis Hunter, the late Ngoi Pēwhairangi and, final entry here, the extraordinary authority and elegance of Donna Awatere, about as removed from Unilever as you could get.”

Related images