Artwork Detail

‘Mapua’ shows a view across Tasman Bay from near the clay-brick studio that Woollaston built on the orchard property of Decimus Wells and his family at Mapua. Woollaston worked on the Wells orchard in the 1930s and became friends with the family. The two white structures that look like figures are gantries in the port of Mapua.

Sometimes referred to by Toss as ‘Landscape in Purple’, the painting shows the influence of Nelson painter Flora Scales (1887-1985), who had trained in modern painting at the Hans Hofmann School in Munich, Germany, in the early 1930s. Scales taught Woollaston the so-called ‘push-pull’ method of manipulating colours so that one patch of colour seemed to recede into the background while another patch seemed to project outwards. This method could be substituted for conventional linear and atmospheric perspective techniques to create a sense of depth and volume through colour.

Woollaston was delighted with the work and exhibited it at the annual Suter Art Society exhibition in Nelson with the bold price tag of 100 guineas or £105, provoking a sarcastic comment in the Nelson Mail that the painting took pride of place for price. The work featured prominently in Woollaston’s first one-man show in Dunedin in 1936, and he gave it to Edith Alexander as an engagement present before the couple married in Dunedin in August of that year. ‘Mapua’ remained in the possession of Edith Woollaston until her death in 1987.
Oil on canvas
475 x 620 mm
630 x 780mm (framed)
Accession number