Woman Landells, Flora Annie Margaret (1888 - 1981)

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
30 July 1981
Western Australia, Australia
Art Teacher and Artist
Alternative Names
  • Cornu, Flora Annie Margaret (Maiden)

Written by Dorothy Erickson, Independent Scholar

Flora Landells was a leading Western Australian artist and art teacher. Born Flora Annie Margaret Cornu in Adelaide in 1888. Daughter of a gardener, John Cornu and his wife Emma Cornu, she moved with her family to Western Australia in 1896. She lived in Guildford until 1905 when they moved to the country. The determined seventeen year old stayed behind to study and earn her living as a 'teacher of painting'. This began a career as an artist and teacher spanning over seventy years. In 1903 Flora had commenced studying at the Perth Technical School under James W. R. Linton. She was an outstanding student who achieved first-class results; she won scholarships that paid the fees. She joined the West Australian Society of Arts in 1904 and exhibited regularly to 1914, winning the Open Competition and the Hackett Prize for Drawing in 1906. She held a number of solo exhibitions at which she exhibited drawings, paintings, china-painting and pottery. In 1908 she commenced teaching at Methodist Ladies College and in 1909 opened art classes at Midland-Junction Technical School.

In 1913 Flora married Reginald Burns Landells, an engineer and chemist. They built a home in Maylands where in 1925 she set up the Maylands School of Art. Her students included Marina Shaw, Amy Harvey, Beatrice Darbyshire and Rolf Harris. The couple remained childless with her career taking prominence. About 1929 she established the Landells Studio Pottery where she and her husband proved the perfect foil for each other in pioneering such a venture. Reg Landell's knowledge was used to good effect; he built much of their equipment and prepared all their clays and glazes from materials almost entirely sourced in Western Australia. The project became an essential industry during World War II when Landells changed the major thrust to produce a mass-market range for Harris Scarfe & Sandover.

In 1947 Flora held a major exhibition at the Newspaper House Art Gallery. There were over 200 catalogue entries including bowls, vases, jugs, paperweights, cups and saucers. Robert Campbell, the Director of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, was lavish in his praise, saying that he had seen pottery in many countries and felt that Perth should be proud of Flora's ability. Flora Landells did much to encourage an interest in pottery in Perth. Hers was an energetic and engaging personality and she was in demand as a speaker. Her work is found in public and private collections around Australia.

After her husband died in 1960 Flora completed one last firing and solo exhibition and then restricted herself to painting and china painting exhibiting until 1976. She probably learnt china-painting from the Misses Creeth who fired her work until she imported a kiln about 1920. The Australian National Gallery has a fine teapot painted with Sturt Desert Peas in hemispherical lunettes. The early pieces differ markedly from the post World War II work that generally featured realistically painted wildflowers. Flora died on 30 July 1981. The following year Methodist Ladies College named The Flora Landells' Art Centre in her honour. She made a substantial contribution to the artistic life of the nation as an exhibitor for some seventy years, as a teacher for over forty years, and, with her husband, as the pioneer in studio pottery in Western Australia.

Published Resources

Book Sections

  • Erickson, Dorothy, 'Flora Annie Margaret Landells', in Kerr, Joan (ed.), Heritage: The National Women’s Art Book, Craftsman House, Roseville East, New South Wales, 1995. Details

Online Resources

See also