Celebrated NZ painter's watercolour featuring South Kingwell Farm

February 25, 2019

The Watercolour by Evelyn Page on the left is entitled Moreten (sic) Hampstead, Devon.

(Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū NZ; purchased 1986. By the kind permission of the painter’s daughter.)

 

In the foreground of the painting is South Kingwell Farm, formerly part of Doccombe Manor. The photo on the left shows it little changed 80 years later.

 

Evelyn Page 1899-1988
Little known here, Evelyn Page is a very celebrated artist in her homeland of New Zealand. ‘Her life was one of extraordinary zest and independence of spirit. These qualities have been made visible in the paintings she has created over seventy years - vibrant, perceptive, direct expressions of her responses to sights, places and people. Landscapes, portraits and still life reveal her delight in interpreting the visual experience.’ (Evelyn Page - Seven Decades by Janet Paul & Neil Roberts)

Evelyn (née Polson) was born in Christchurch and studied at the Canterbury College School of Art. A working member of the Canterbury Society of Arts, in 1927 she also joined other young Canterbury artists in The Group, formed to give artists a greater say over showing their work. A number of overseas trips influenced her work. In 1936 she travelled to Europe and was impressed by the French Post Impressionists. She started to use pure colour after this trip.

In 1937 Evelyn stayed for a short period at a cottage near Moretonhampstead with the New Zealand composer Frederick Page - they married on their return home - and painted this watercolour. Taken from a high viewpoint (perhaps Hingston Rock?), the painting shows the interest in formal structure and colouring that was evident in her earlier works.

 

The painter’s daughter by coincidence married a member of the Wills family of Pepperdon who moved to New Zealand after the tragic death of Oliver Wills MC in the First World War. In 1986 they stayed in Moretonhampstead and visited nearby Pepperdon but could not find the farm in the painting. MHS were recently contacted by the gallery for the farm’s identity.

 

See https://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/collection/88-135

 

 

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Doccombe is a hamlet in Dartmoor National Park with a distinct heritage that our HLF funded Project aims to record and present in various media forms over the next 18 months to include a book and an exhibition.

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