Olivia Spencer Bower

England / Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1905, d.1982

Dr Smith at Rawene

  • 1948
  • Pencil & ink
  • Purchased with assistance from the Friends of Robert McDougall Art Gallery, 1999
  • 418 x 356mm
  • 99/21
  • View on google maps

English-born Olivia Spencer Bower studied at Canterbury College School of Art through the 1920s before leaving for further studies in Europe in 1929. After attending the Slade School of Art and the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London, she returned to New Zealand in 1931 to begin a successful lifelong career as an artist. On her doctor’s advice, in 1948 Spencer Bower spent several months at Rawene in the Hokianga Harbour, recovering from suspected rheumatic fever. She made this sketch as a study for Kitchen Philosophy, a larger, modified composition in oil on canvas. Featured at right is legendary Scottish-born Dr George Marshall McCall Smith, who emigrated to New Zealand in 1914 and ran Rawene’s hospital for thirty-four years. His continued campaigning for state health funding and development of a vital medical service for the area won him widespread admiration, which Spencer Bower shared.

(Leaving for Work, 2 October 2021 - 1 May 2022)

Exhibition History