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Landells, Flora Annie (1888–1981)

by Dorothy Erickson

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Flora Annie Margaret Landells (1888-1981), painter and potter, was born on 1 April 1888 in North Adelaide, daughter of John Le Cornu, gardener, and his wife Emma Trephena, née Cole.  The family moved to Guildford, Western Australia, in 1896.  In 1903 Flora began studies at the Perth Technical School, under J. W. R. Linton.  She was an outstanding student, achieving first-class passes and securing scholarships.  A member of the Western Australian Society of Arts from 1904, she exhibited regularly to 1914, winning the open competition and the (Deborah) Hackett prize for drawing in 1906.  Examples of her work were included in the Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work (1907) and the Franco-British Exhibition at Wembley, London (1908).

A painter in oils and watercolours, Flora taught art at Methodist Ladies’ College (1908-48) and at Midland Junction Technical School (1909-30).  She also took up china painting, using lustres and featuring geometric patterns or stylised swirling forms.  Her teachers were probably the sisters Helen and May Creeth, who fired her work until she imported a kiln about 1920.  On 20 December 1913 at the Guildford Methodist Church she married Reginald Burns Landells, a pharmacist.  The couple lived at Maylands, where in 1925 Mrs Landells set up a school of art.  Her students included Marina Shaw, Amy Harvey, Jean Darbyshire and Rolf Harris.  From 1927 she held a number of solo exhibitions at which she showed drawings, paintings, china painting and pottery.

Flora and Reg Landells were also pioneering potters in Western Australia, establishing the Landells Studio Pottery about 1929.  Reg built much of their equipment and prepared all their clays and glazes, from materials almost entirely sourced in Western Australia, while Flora created and decorated the pots.  Her pottery comprised hand-built forms and carving.  During World War II, to relieve the shortage of imported ceramic wares, the pottery produced a mass-market range for sale at Harris, Scarfe & Sandovers Ltd.  In 1947 Flora held solo exhibitions at the (Sir) Claude Hotchin and Newspaper House art galleries.  After the war her pottery featured wheel-thrown forms with Chinese glazes, or was inspired by native vegetation.

Landells did much to encourage an interest in pottery in Perth.  An energetic and engaging personality, she was in demand as a speaker.  After Reg died in 1960, she completed one last firing of pottery and staged a final solo exhibition, at Pastoral House.  Thereafter she restricted herself to painting and to china painting, often featuring realistic-looking wildflowers.  Founding patron (1964) of the West Australian Guild of China Painters, she participated in its exhibitions.  She retired in 1976 after showing paintings in the WA Society of Arts’ eightieth anniversary exhibition.  Childless, she died on 30 July 1981 at Nedlands and was cremated with Churches of Christ forms.  In 1982 Methodist Ladies’ College named its art centre in her honour.  Her work is held in public and private collections; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, has a fine teapot decorated with Sturt’s desert pea flowers painted in hemispherical lunettes (c.1914).

Select Bibliography

  • D. Erickson, 'Flora Annie Margaret Landells’, in J. Kerr (ed), Heritage: The National Women’s Art Book, 1995
  • K. Fahy et al (eds), Australian Art Pottery 1900-1950, 2004
  • Pix, 24 June 1944, p 11
  • West Australian, 8 May 1947, p 11
  • West Australian, 1 August 1981, p 25
  • Craft Australia, vol 3, no 1, 1973, p 8
  • Craftwest, Winter, 1994, p 10
  • personal knowledge

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Dorothy Erickson, 'Landells, Flora Annie (1888–1981)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/landells-flora-annie-14109/text25101, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 22 July 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

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