Bohemians of the Brush – Pumpkin Cottage
Pumpkin Cottage in Silverstream, Upper Hutt, a simple wooden settlers cottage, became the nurturing place for New Zealand’s own unique impressionist art movement – ‘Bohemians of the Brush’.
Pumpkin Cottage Silverstream, Bessie Chapple oil on canvas. Courtesy Expressions Arts and Entertainment Centre, Pumpkin Cottage Paintings Collection gifted by Ernest and Shirley Cosgrove.
Pumpkin Cottage was built in the 1850s and was used by artists well into the 1940s. From 1895 onwards, artists such as James Nairn and Mabel Hill travelled to the rural setting to learn and paint together.
Nugent Welch, Carl Laugesen and probably James Shelley at Pumpkin Cottage 1940. Photographer unknown. Collection St Patricks College Silverstream.
Threatened by flooding and road developments, Pumpkin Cottage was demolished in 1980. But it didn’t go without a fight. Many people and organisations fought to keep this humble building and its surroundings which had captured the minds and hearts of artists and lovers of art history for more than 50 years.
Sketching party, 1894-96, probably at Silverstream. including Mabel Hill, Nairn, C.D. Barraud. Courtesy estate of Elizabeth Mason.
Art historian and curator Jane Vial, collector Ernest Cosgrove and former head of the Historic Places Trust John Daniels gather at Upper Hutt's Expressions Arts and Entertainment Centre to tell the story of Pumpkin Cottage to Spectrum’s Jack Perkins. They also trace the rise of ‘Bohemians of the Brush’ and the struggle for acceptance by New Zealand's impressionist movement.
Akatarawa Road, Mabel Hill watercolour. Courtesy Expressions Arts and Entertainment Centre, Pumpkin Cottage Paintings Collection gifted by Ernest and Shirley Cosgrove.