Pumpkin Cottage Online Collection
The Pumpkin Cottage Collection is a nationally significant collection of work from the early impressionist movement which was nurtured at the legendary Pumpkin Cottage, Silverstream, Upper Hutt. It features paintings by James Nairn, Mabel Hill, Girolamo Nerli, Frances Hodgkins and Nugent Welch among others.
Local art collectors Ernest and Shirley Cosgrove gifted 39 Pumpkin Cottage paintings to Expressions Whirinaki Trust for the people of Upper Hutt in 2009 and the works have been in the Centre's safe keeping ever since. These significant Pumpkin Cottage paintings are the City's first permanent art collection which continues to grow thanks to several generous gifts.
In 1895, Wellington artist and art teacher, James Nairn, rented Pumpkin Cottage, a rustic dwelling on a Silverstream farm, which soon became a retreat for the modern artists of the day. These artists were exploring Impressionism, the significant art movement, which began in Paris in the 1870s and had spread to Britain, Europe, and Australia by the 1880s. These artists enjoyed a bohemian lifestyle at Pumpkin Cottage - where they explored this exciting 'new' art form. Some of the Pumpkin Cottage artists were James Nairn, Mabel Hill, John Baillie, H.M. Gore, Maurice Crompton-Smith and Mary Tripe (nee Richardson). Impressionists from Christchurch and Dunedin including Alfred Walsh, W.M. Gibb, John Madden, Frances Hodgkins and Girolamo Nerli were also part of the movement.
Significant Art Movement
In the late 18th Century, New Zealand art students were taught to paint by a set of rules.
The Pumpkin Cottage Impressionists scorned the grand imagery and techniques of the academics, believing the style was clichéd and inauthentic.
Although they were diverse in style and temperament, the Impressionists all valued the originality and freshness achieved from painting quickly and directly from the subject. An indigenous New Zealand style of Impressionism, saturated with colour, was born.
The radicalism of their art united the Impressionists as they sought camaraderie and mutual support. Pumpkin Cottage was a meeting place for the artists and their movement. While Nairn died in 1904, aged just 45, a subsequent sell-out memorial exhibition of his work at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts helped build the mystique of Pumpkin Cottage. Pumpkin Cottage Impressionism was nationally popular for almost half a century after Nairn's death.
If you are interested in gifting or donating a Pumpkin Cottage era artwork to the collection, please get in touch with Curator Chriss Doherty-McGregor.
B. E. Chapple
UHPC 1/1, Oil, 255mm (h) x 339mm (w)
B.E. (Bessie) Chapple (1883 - 1965) trained under James Nairn and M.E.R. Tripe from about 1897 until 1901 at Wellington Technical School. She had a long association with Pumpkin Cottage and the various incarnations of the Wellington Art Club from 1907. She painted this between about 1920, when St Patrick's College added the lean-to at the rear to the original cottage, and 1946 when the old wooden bridge on Hutt Main Road (now Fergusson Drive) was replaced by a concrete culvert. In this painting, Bessie focuses on the expanse of Whirinaki Creek at the Pumpkin Cottage ford. From a low viewpoint, she rendered the water in pure blue dabs of paint which contrast vividly with the green weeds and grasses. Such a painterly Impressionist composition with its shapely cropped angle of the bridge would have made her former art teacher, James Nairn, proud.
UHPC 1/2, Water colour, 458mm (h) x 485mm (w)
The radicalism of their art united the impressionists as they sought camaraderie and mutual support. Like their French, Scottish, English and Australian counterparts, the impressionist painters associated with Pumpkin Cottage were middle class, talented, creative people some of whom chose to follow the precarious career of a professional artist. Many of them were also highly proficient in theatre, writing and singing. However, while some of their ideas were regarded as radical, many of New Zealand’s impressionists were part of the cultural establishment. Alfred Walsh, James Nairn, Mabel Hill, and Mary Tripe were art teachers; Fred Sedgwick worked for the Government Printing Office; John Baillie was a bookseller and photographer.
UHPC 1/3, Oil, 320mm (h) x 455mm (w)
William (Bill) Tiller (1861-1935) first exhibited as a young Wellington Technical School student with the Wellington Art Club in 1896. He was associated with Pumpkin Cottage for over 40 years. He was probably staying at the cottage when he captured this beautiful impression of fading light at the end of the day. The characteristic Silverstream hills are recognisable, but topography is less important to the Impressionist painter than the opportunity to rapidly paint the colours cast by the light and shadow.
Arthur A. Bender
UHPC 1/4, Oil, 370mm (h) x 493mm (w)
A New Style of Painting Impressionism didn’t prescribe particular painting techniques or subjects, but emphasised observation rather than copying traditional forms. Compositions were often arbitrarily chopped off at the edges, rather than carefully balanced. Paint was layered rather than mixed and brushed on rapidly to capture the moment. The brush strokes from the large flat brushes used were rarely disguised, as seen here.
UHPC 1/5, Water colour, 448mm (h) x 558mm (w)
In the summer of 1910, a new literary, artistic and musical group, Wellington Arts Club, rented a cottage at Golden Gate, Paremata Harbour for 5 shillings per annum for the use of its members. The bach was owned by prominent local farmer William Bradey and had been used by James Nairn and members of the original Wellington Art Club about seven years earlier. In this fluid watercolour of the harbour, Sedgwick (1873 - 1922) rendered the clouds and windswept trees as curved decorative forms. Other Pumpkin Cottage Impressionists including D.K. Richmond, Nugent Welch, and young Roland Wakelin were also influenced by Art Nouveau from about 1906. By 1913, the Wellington Arts Club was in liquidation and forced to vacate its Bowen Street rooms and auction 300 books on art and paintings. Bradey's cottage was also required by its owner and the artists returned to Silverstream.
S. W. Wauchop
UHPC 1/6, Water colour, 506mm (h) x 649mm (w)
Bill Wauchop held powerful roles as president of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts and board member of the National Art Gallery. He was also associated with establishing the Kelliher Art Award in the 1950s. While he collected drawings by Christopher Perkins, he publicly denounced Modernist developments as 'crude and ugly'. Wauchop preferred traditional, 'inspiring' romantic imagery. The scenic landscape of the Taramakau Valley between Hokitika and Greymouth remained one of his favourite painting spots.
Dorothy Kate Richmond
UHPC 1/7, Water colour, 508mm (h) x 595mm (w)
Dorothy Kate (Dolla) Richmond (1861 - 1935) returned to Wellington from an extended painting trip overseas in late 1903. She succeeded Nairn as Wellington's major Impressionist painter with overseas experience. She painted regularly around Silverstream and Heretaunga, but her family connections with York Bay were strong. In 1911 she bought a house there where she lived surrounded by paintings, books and her tame seagull. Richmond's Impressionist image of York Bay embraced a new technique of rendering the landscape as curved shapes, which was influenced by the organic forms of the Art Nouveau style.
STILL LIFE WITH ROSES
Dorothy Kate Richmond
UHPC 1/8, Water colour, 715mm (h) x 770mm (w)
In between painting excursions to Taranaki, Marlborough and Mt. Cook, Dolla Richmond developed her magnificent flower paintings, which she usually painted at her Hill Street studio in Wellington or her home at York Bay. The bright yellow jar with a snake handles may have been part of her Italian majolica pottery tea set. Renowned for her handling of watercolour, Richmond's Impressionistic techniques include leaving areas of bright white paper exposed as highlights and the wet-on-wet method of layering colour to achieve deep saturated yellows and reds.
W. S. Wauchop
UHPC 1/9, Water colour, 445mm (h) x 520mm (w)
Born in Christchurch, William Wauchop (1889-1971)studied at Canterbury University under Alfred Walsh and graduated in 1910.
He taught in Christchurch before becoming a librarian at the General Assembly Library. His subjects were still life and landscapes, especially mountains, lakes and native forest and was a prominent member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts and was president for thirteen years, from 1953 to 1962.
His work was represented in New Zealand's Centennial Exhibition in Wellington in 1940 and he also founded the Wauchop School of Dancing.
RIVER AND HILLS, KAITOKE
Jean M. McKay
UHPC 1/10, Water colour, 455mm (h) x 545mm (w)
Born in Christchurch, Jean McKay (1908-93),married name was Jane Leggett, studied at Wellington Technical College and whilst is considered a Pumpkin Cottage painter was best known for her floral paintings. Most of the women impressionists were relatively emancipated for the era, and several ran their own studios. Dorothy Kate Richmond wore the loose bohemian clothing associated with the new women’s movement and Mabel Hill insisted on exhibiting under her maiden name after she married in 1898. Despite being a colleague and close friend of Nairn, Hill’s comment that she was only invited there twice
reminds us that propriety limited female participation in life at Pumpkin Cottage.
RUINS, PALATINE HILL, ROME
Edward Noel Barraud
UHPC 1/11, Water colour, 598mm (h) x 445mm (w)
Son of artist C. D. Barraud: worked as an accountant but became known for his watercolours and etchings. Was a founder and first Secretary of the Fine Arts Assoc., and was on the first Council of the NZ Academy of Fine Arts, Wellington in the Industrial Exhibition Wellington 1881. In 1887–88 he was in England, but by 1890 exhibited as a student at W. L. Morison's School of Art, Wellington. By 1897 he was living in Palmerston North, but still exhibiting in Wellington. In 1910–11 he travelled in England and Europe.
Henry Moreland Gore
UHPC 1/12, Oil, 445mm (h) x 545mm (w)
Harry Gore (1864 - 1930) was an original member of Nairn's group and long regarded as inseparable from the landscape of Silverstream. However, towards the end of his life he found new subject matter at Titahi Bay, a popular holiday spot an hour from Wellington. This view is from Bay Drive as it winds towards the Club Hotel run by the formidable Mrs Elizabeth Thornley. On the left is Cable Hut built in 1917 for the Wellington end of the telegraph cable between the South and North Islands. A contemporary review admired the painting's pastel shades of blue and gold, a popular choice of colours in the 1920s. These pale and muted colours perfectly reflect the languid feeling of long summer days at the beach.
Henry Moreland Gore
UHPC 1/13, Oil, 465mm (h) x 567mm (w)
Gore captured a transitory impressionist moment in this rapidly painted scene of the Hutt River. Branches are decoratively silhouetted against the sky, while brightly coloured trees are reflected in the water. Harry Gore (1864 - 1930) was represented at New Zealand's first major impressionist exhibition - the second Wellington Art Club annual exhibition in 1894. From 1895 until his death, his steady influence as an official of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington helped the impressionist cause.
LIMESTONE FORMATION, BAY OF ISLANDS, NORTHLAND
Carl T. Laugeson
UHPC 1/14, Water colour, 395mm (h) x 495mm (w)
Carl Thorwald Laugesen (1900 - 1987) was born in Marton. He left school at the age of 13 and studied at Canterbury School of Art in the 1920s. He worked as a poster designer and commercial artist in Wellington, spent three years in the New Zealand Army Home Service, and taught for eight years at Wellington Technical College School of Art. After WWII he became a professional painter, specialising in landscapes and portraits of Maori women, giving particular attention to their moko.
Arthur A. Bender
UHPC 1/15, Oil, 332mm (h) x 410mm (w)
Arther A Bender was one of the early exhibitors at the Wellington Art Club, Founded by James Nairn in 1892. Lectures were held, sketches were exhibited and criticised and members were encouraged to draw from life. Each annual exhibition of the club proved a great success. The radicalism of their art united the Impressionists as they sought camaraderie and mutual support. Pumpkin Cottage was a meeting place for the artists and their movement. Historic Wellington Art Club members and exhibitors include: James M Nairn (founder), John Baillie (founder member and first secretary), Nugent Welch, Sydney Higgs, Mabel Hill, Girolamo Nerli, Frances Hodgkins, , William Tiller, Bessie Chapple, Carl T. Laugeson, Frederick Sedgwick and Arthur A. Bender.
SOLDIER'S POOL, HUTT RIVER
George H. Garnham
UHPC 1/16, Water colour, 557mm (h) x 755mm (w)
An overcast sky bleaches the colours of this popular Hutt River pool near the Silverstream Bridge where soldiers bathed since the Boer War years. Pumpkin Cottage was located behind the trees to the right. George Garnham (b.1877) was a buyer for the Government Printing Office in Wellington. In 1904 he became Secretary of the WellingtonSketching Club, successor to the Wellington Art Club.
UHPC 1/17, Acrylic, 630mm (h) x 785mm (w)
Pumpkin Cottage ceased being an artists' retreat in 1949, when it accommodated families working for St Patrick's College. By 1975 it was dilapidated. Darcy Nicholas, of Kahui Maunga, Te Atiawa, Ngati Ruanui, Ngati Haua and Tauranga Moana tribes, was having a drink with his father-in-law at the RSA in Upper Hutt in 1975, when talk turned to the threatened demolition of the cottage. On his way home to Taita he stopped at the empty cottage and began this painting.
Nicholas depicted the artistic icon at the height of the campaign to save it. Its chimney may have crumbled but, bathed in light, its proud history and spirit remained.
WELLINGTON HARBOUR FROM BOTANICAL GARDENS
UHPC 1/18, Water colour, 892mm (h) x 730mm (w)
Fresh and unusual viewpoints resulted from painting on the spot. Fred Sedgwick used a characteristic impressionist technique of cropping this picture arbitrarily on each side. Sedgwick (1873 - 1922) was a Pumpkin Cottage stalwart from 1893 and was the leading figure behind the revival of Silverstream as an artists' retreat immediately after Nairn's death in 1904.
THROUGH THE FOREST, AKATARAWA
UHPC 1/19, Water colour, 745mm (h) x 960mm (w)
Mabel Hill (1872 - 1956) was part of a group of Wellington painters who travelled to Sydney in 1897. It is likely that the leading impressionist, Tom Roberts, encouraged her paintings of characteristic New Zealand landscape defined by sunlight. Hill was an art teacher at Wellington Technical School until her marriage in 1898. Like the feminist artist, Marie Bashkirtseff, she was a precocious and talented painter who met with early success. Her stated fear that she would be 'lionized' on a visit to Dunedin in 1895 prompted Frances Hodgkins to 'not trouble her', although Hodgkins later came to respect Hill.
PUMPKIN COTTAGE, 1930
UHPC 1/20, Reproduction, 429mm (h) x 534mm (w)
How the cottage got its name: The cottage’s name came about due to a signal devised by the sons of Charles and Emma Haybittle who farmed the land and lived just behind the cottage. When young Ralph Haybittle wanted to let his brother know he should get off the train at Silverstream to help milk the cows, he would hoist a pumpkin onto the cottage’s chimney. ‘Nairn got a small [pumpkin], tied it to the end of a small stick which he stuck under the gable roof & painted on the wall beneath the legend “Ye signe of ye golden pumpkin”. Later the pumpkin fell away & he made a yellow drawing in place of it on the gable.’ Maurice Crompton-Smith to Stanley Edwards, 1939 Nairn’s painting of a pumpkin was refreshed by generations of artists until the 1950s. Also painted over the door was the legend ‘Ye Musketeers of the Brush 1901’ from Trilby, George du Maurier’s best-selling 1894 novel about bohemian artists in Paris
UHPC 1/21, Oil, 495mm (h) x 605mm (w)
Impressionist painters were fascinated by the colours and movement of water. In common with French impressionist, Claude Monet, Tiller may have painted this view (of the Hutt River) while seated in a boat. Tiller remained associated with Pumpkin Cottage for more than 40 years.
UHPC 1/22, Oil, 505mm (h) x 620mm (w)
William Tiller was a draper's assistant at Wellington's Kirkcaldie and Stains department store. He was a neighbour of Nugent Welch in Wright Street, and in 1920 joined the independent Society of Seven artists and exhibited in their last two exhibitions. The eye moves from the painterly clump of grasses in the foreground across the deep expanse of beautifully coloured stones and water to the outline of hills against bright blue sky.
SPRING SHOWER, HUTT RIVER
UHPC 1/23, Water colour, 585mm (h) x 715mm (w)
First World War veteran Sydney Higgs (1884 - 1978) helped scrub out Pumpkin Cottage after a big flood in 1930 and was a leading force in securing it exclusively for use by the Wellington Sketch & Studio Club in 1942. Higgs painted this elegant and optimistic image near the end of the Second World War. The modern reinforced concrete bridge at Silverstream was opened in 1939. Seen through a blossoming cherry tree, the painting can be interpreted as a celebration of progress and renewal. It is in marked contrast to the relentlessly grim war news then reaching New Zealand from overseas.
PUMPKIN COTTAGE SILVERSTREAM
T. A. McCormack
UHPC 1/24, Dry Point Etching, 391mm (h) x 424mm (w)
T. A. (Thomas) McCormack (1883 - 1973) arrived in Wellington from Napier in 1921 and soon found company among the artists at Pumpkin Cottage. The figure seated on the veranda is the lanky Nugent (Nuggy) Welch (1.83 metres tall). The old rose beside the painted pumpkin was planted sometime after 1914 by artist Flora Scales. McCormack more than likely printed this etching using a printing press gifted to the Wellington Art Club by the Dominion Museum. Museum staffer and Society of Seven members, James McDonald, also a keen printmaker, arranged the gift in about 1920.
AKATARAWA RIVER (UPPER WAIKANAE)
Henry Moreland Gore
UHPC 1/25, Oil, 428mm (h) x 510mm(w)
Light is the subject of this painting done in a decorative ensemble of blues, greys and ochre, with the figure of the fisherman seeming to dissolve into the river. Indeed, Gore was busy in 1896. Not only did he represent New Zealand in tennis, but he also worked fulltime as a Parliamentary Hansard staff member.
Archibald Frank Nicoll
UHPC 1/26, Oil, 330mm (h) x 430mm(w)
In the immediate post-war period, serious artists in England and Canada created opportunities to promote and sell their art by banding together in small groups. In March 1918 Christchurch-born Archibald (Archie) Nicoll (1886 - 1953) lost a leg and was discharged from the Army. While working at the Wellington Technical School, he helped set up the Society of Seven, which included fellow returned soldier Nugent Welch, and Pumpkin Cottage stalwarts Fred Sedgwick, A.A. Bender, William Tiller, James McDonald, Edwin Murray Fuller and E.G. Hood. Between 1919 and 1921 the Society of Seven held three exhibitions of their work, with Silverstream a popular subject.
PORT OF WANGANUI 1913
Henry Moreland Gore
UHPC 1/27, Oil, 395mm (h) x 495mm(w)
Walter Fell, Art in New Zealand, 1931, quoted Morelands art as "He saw Nature as something calm and quiet and beautiful, and as such he painted it.’ James Nairn encouraged the Pumpkin Cottage artists to do three sketches each day – one before breakfast, another before 12, and a third after 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
WHITEMANS VALLEY ROAD
UHPC 1/28, Water colour, 344mm (h) x 393mm(w)
This delicate painting indicates that Christchurch artist and William Ernest Chapman painted in the Silverstream area. Whitemans Valley is situated near Pumpkin Cottage, although it was reached via Wallaceville. Chapman (d.1945) was a member of Christchurch's Palette Club. In 1891 he resigned from teaching at the Canterbury School of Art to travel and successfully exhibited in Paris and New York. It is unclear whether he painted this prior to going overseas.
UHPC 1/29, Water colour, 417mm (h) x 508mm(w)
Four artists including Sydney Higgs celebrated VE Day (Victory over Europe) at Pumpkin Cottage on 9th May 1945, New Zealand's official celebration marking the end of the Second World War. Higgs may have painted this water colour during that visit although the bleached grass suggests a dry summer's day in Upper Hutt, while the clouds convincingly scud overhead in the expansive sky which takes up more than half the picture. As soldiers returned home, married and began to raise families, there was a shortage of accommodation. In August 1947 St Patrick's College revoked Wellington Sketch & Studio Club's exclusive lease of the cottage in order to house its staff. It appears this was the last time the cottage was available for the use of artists.
Mary E. R. Tripe
UHPC 1/30, Oil, 215mm (h) x 290mm(w)
Mary (Molly) Tripe, nee Richardson (1870 - 1939) painted at Silverstream and Trentham for many years. But she had largely abandoned the area by the 1920s in favour of portraiture and extended trips overseas painting and exhibiting in England, France and Canada. The title of this sketchy image in Wellington Harbour near Red Rocks suggests it was exhibited overseas. It echoes Tripe's favourite themes of leisure and well-being, with slicks of red paint suggesting a turban worn by the fashionable woman in trousers. On returning from an overseas trip in 1928, Tripe was sufficiently alarmed at the state of Pumpkin Cottage to write about it and her memories of James Nairn, her former colleague at Wellington Technical School, in the new journal Art in New Zealand.
HUTT RIVER, SILVERSTREAM
UHPC 1/31, Oil, 542mm (h) x 642mm (w)
Born in Waitara, Taranaki, New Zealand - Darcy Nicholas has been actively involved in the contemporary Maori art movement since the late 1960’s and was inspired by the Pumpkin Cottage movement. Based in the Hutt Vaelley he has exhibited throughout New Zealand, Australia, Africa, United States, France, India, Britain, Germany, Netherlands, and Canada.
He has been responsible for several major cultural exchanges between Native American and Maori artists. He curated major touring exhibitions to Australia, and Africa as well as being creative director for Maori Art meets America in San Francisco in 2005 and Maori art Market 2007/09/11. In 2005 he won the Creative Wellington Award for his services to the arts in the greater Wellington region. From 1993 until 2012 he also served as the director of Community and Cultural Services for Porirua City. He was the visionary behind the creation of Pataka Museum, for which in 2010 he was made a companion of the Queens Service Order (QSO) for his services to Museums. In 2013 he was given the Supreme award for Maori arts, `Te Tohu mo Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Te Waka Toi Exemplary Award. ‘
HUTT RIVER, SILVERSTREAM 1941
UHPC 1/32, Water colour, 410mm (h) x 460mm (w)
On 22 Feb 1904, aged just 45, James Nairn died from peritonitis, leaving behind his wife Ellen and two children. His untimely death and a subsequent sell-out memorial exhibition at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts in April 1904 helped build the mystique of Pumpkin Cottage. Its leader was gone but Pumpkin Cottage lived on. In fact, it thrived as an artists’ retreat.
Pumpkin Cottage became nationally popular immediately after Nairn’s death. Impressionists came from all over the country to paint the classic Silverstream scenery and re-live the bohemian life and the cottage was used by successors to the Wellington Art Club. In the 1930s, Nelle Scanlan immortalised Pumpkin Cottage in Winds of Heaven, one of a best-selling series of novels. Joseph Palethorpe painted thiswatercolcou fo the Hutt River in 1941.
THOMAS COTTER HOMESTEAD 1868
UHPC 1/33, Reproduction, 415mm (h) x 538mm (w)
Christopher Aubrey was an elusive character, moving from town to farm to town throughout New Zealand from the 1860s to the early 20th century, earning a living as he went by painting. Aubrey had a real skill as a draftsman often seen in his architectural paintings. In later years his sketches were a regular feature of the New Zealand Graphic. He painted in Otago and Southland during the 1870s and stayed on back country stations throughout the 1880s often leaving sketches behind in return for hospitality. From 1890 he moved from Wellington through the Wairarapa and ended up in Auckland by 1898.
James McLauchlan Nairn
UHPC 1/34, Water colour, 690mm (h) x 790mm (w)
James (Jimmy) McLauchlan Nairn (1859 - 1904) often painted around Wellington Harbour. The fisherman calmly goes about his business near Roseneath, while the port bustles with shipping. A loaded vessel steams past other anchored ships waiting to dock, while two little sailing boats bob on the choppy sea. Nairn has captured Impressionist moments in characteristic blobs of pure colour for the viewer to mix visually.
In the winter of 1898 Nairn got soaked while painting out of doors and caught pneumonia, resulting in a long convalescence. Perhaps this painting was the cause of his near-death experience.
PORTRAIT OF MRS RAE JONES
James McLauchlan Nairn
UHPC 1/35, Water colour, 650mm (h) x 575mm (w)
The face of 18-year-old Jane Rae Jones, a student at Wellington Technical School, was indeed masterfully painted in startling yet convincing shades of green. But Nairn's biased self-review of his own work at the 1895 New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts' exhibition was at the expense of his Christchurch allies. This was too much for a furious Gibb who revealed in Christchurch's Press that the critic was none other than Nairn. The exchange undermined Nairn and had a detrimental impact on the unity of the Impressionist movement. Christchurch and Nelson Impressionists failed to exhibit at the third and final Wellington Art Club exhibition organised by Nairn in 1896 and New Zealand's impressionist movement lost its momentum.
PUMPKIN COTTAGE 1934
UHPC 1/36, Reproduction, 410mm (h) x 480mm (w)
Joseph Palethorpe painted this view of Pumpkin Cotatge in 1934. "A cottage nestled amongst tall trees behind a fence; a Silverstream landscape with tall trees in a field, hills in the background and a fence and trees beyond the field. By the 1930s the cottage was in poor shape. St Patrick’s College, which had bought the land and cottage in 1926 and extended it to be used as accommodation for the College, restored and leased it again to artists until 1949, when the lease was revoked. But by the 1970s the cottage was run down and, despite a concerted campaign beginning in 1974, the move to save the building failed. St Patrick’s College demolished it in 1980 but the Fergusson Drive site, now Pumpkin Cottage Reserve, was marked in 2000 by a Hutt River boulder donated by Ernest and Shirley Cosgrove.
Nugent H. Welch
UHPC 1/37, Water colour, 400mm (h) x 490mm (w)
Cottage stalwart, Nugent Welch, also spent much time painting at coastal spots around Wellington, Kapiti and the Wairarapa. Castlepoint was not commonly frequented by artists but Welch enjoyed expeditions to remote locations on the New Zealand coast searching out fresh painting spots. During the 1930s Welch moved away from Impressionism and began using modern blocks of pure colour to indicate forms such as the grass and sand dunes in this painting. The expansive sky dominating half the picture space is a characteristic Welch composition. His high viewpoint from a hill looks over the broad sweep of the landscape below and leads the eye towards the smooth blue horizon.
PUMPKIN COTTAGE, REAR VIEW
Nugent H. Welch
UHPC 1/38, Water colour, 525mm (h) x 420mm (w)
Nugent Welch (1881 - 1970), served overseas and was appointed official New Zealand war artist in 1918. Charged with recording post-war horrors and destruction in allied France, he returned as a hero to Wellington in 1919 and resumed painting in the idyllic surroundings of Silverstream. Welch was immortalised as the bohemian artist at Pumpkin Cottage in Nelle Scanlan's best-selling 1934 romantic novel Winds of Heaven set in Upper Hutt. The bright colours and loosely worked, painterly technique suggest this watercolour dates to the mid-1930s. Further research may reveal whether or not this is a rear view of the famous cottage. The large tree that asymmetrically intersects the space illustrates a characteristic Impressionist technique of selecting an unusual and seemingly arbitrary view.
Nugent H. Welch
UHPC 1/39, Water colour, 494mm (h) x 599mm (w)
The Cosgroves' collection was appropriately the Expressions Art and Entertainment Centre's first exhibition when it opened in 2003. Their subsequent gift of 39 Pumpkin Cottage paintings in 2009 to be held forever on behalf of the people of Upper Hutt formed the basis of the gallery's permanent collection. This is Ernest Cosgrove's favourite painting. It sums up his passion for the New Zealand Impressionists' skill in depicting the colours of local skies. Nugent Welch captured the characteristically expansive Wairarapa landscape on a hazy day - imagine how rapidly he would have needed to paint to catch the moment before the central cloud floated away.
PUMPKIN COTTAGE 1930
UHPC 1/40, Reproduction, 430mm (h) x 534mm (w)
Algemon Gifford painted this watercolour of Pumpkin Cottage in the 1930's. A large, bearded man with a 'perpetual twinkle about the eyes', Gifford was a talented and popular teacher and was known affectionately to more than a generation of boys as 'Uncle Charlie'. His enthusiasm for astronomy was contagious. He was responsible in 1911 for establishing Wellington College's observatory, which when completed in 1913 housed a fine 5⅛-inch equatorially mounted Zeiss refractor, used by many pupils over the years for serious astronomical observation. A number of these pupils later went on to achieve national prominence in amateur and professional astronomy circles.
PUMPKIN COTTAGE MODEL
UHPC 1/41, Card and balsa wood, 140mm (h) x 160mm (w) x 240mm (l)