HASZARD, Rhona

The Blue Wrap

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1925
Oil On Canvas On Board
300 x 370mm

Rhona Haszard was born at Thames but her family soon moved to Hokitika and she received her schooling at Invercargill. In 1918 her mother died in the flu epidemic and the family moved to Christchurch, the acknowledged art centre of New Zealand at the time. Her talent as an artist already obvious, Rhona Haszard enrolled at the Canterbury College School of Art in the same year that its innovative director Archibald Nicoll was appointed. Among her classmates were Olivia Spencer-Bower, Evelyn Page ( Polson) and Rata Lovell-Smith. By the early 1920s Haszard was exhibiting regularly with a number of art societies.

In January 1923 she married Ronald McKenzie, a part time art instructor but the marriage failed by 1925 and ended in divorce. She then married an artist, Leslie Greener who persuaded her to accompany him on an extensive overseas journey which saw them eventually settle in Paris where they both studied at the Academie Julien. In 1928 they went to live in Alexandria where Greener had an appointment at Victoria College and Haszard continued to paint. In 1928 they undertook a painting holiday in Cyprus and it was here that she suffered a serious back injury which resulted in her return to London for treatment. In 1930 both artists exhibited at the Galerie Paul in Cairo and Rhona had a considerable success at the Grafton Gallery, London.

Unfortunately, her illness persisted and brought her to the point of depression. She returned to Alexandria at the end of the year, apparently recovered, but while ostensibly sketching from the Victoria College tower in February 1931, she fell from a window to her death. The artist was thirty years old. This painting, a New Zealand beach scene executed in the year of her departure from this country, is typical of the high coloured Post Impressionism which characterises her work. The purple draped figure with the sun umbrella is a fashionable Japanese touch. Paint is applied in a thick, patch-like way to create a lively surface appropriately expressive of wind at the beach.