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Impressive Start to Fundraising for Mahara Gallery

News Release
Embargoed until Monday 4 July

Impressive Start to Fundraising for Mahara Gallery Redevelopment

Fundraising has got off to an impressive start with almost half a million already raised for the redevelopment of Mahara Gallery as Kāpiti’s regional public art gallery.

As the Mahara Gallery Trust Board launches its fundraising campaign this week, Donations already received include a substantial personal donation from two of the trustees of the Field Collection Trust. Around $3 Million needs to be fundraised to build a significant new cultural amenity for the Kāpiti Coast. It will house and permanently display the Field Collection of valuable works by one of New Zealand’s best-known and most loved artists Frances Hodgkins, her family and other significant New Zealand artists.

Frances Hodgkins is a national cultural icon who developed strong links to the Kāpiti Coast and is interred in Waikanae cemetery. The Field Collection is part of Kāpiti’s cultural heritage, attracting visitors from around New Zealand when it is exhibited. The collection is currently in storage.

“Without redevelopment of our facilities to professional museum standards,” says Mahara Trust Board chair John Mowbray, “the Kapiti Coast is not in a position to hold onto these treasures. The new gallery provides a permanent home for the collection in its own purpose-designed gallery and environmentally controlled spaces.

“The donations received thus far are a most generous start to our fundraising, and an acknowledgement of how important this gallery redevelopment is to the Kāpiti Coast and its future.”

The significance of the gallery redevelopment – to become a two-storey facility linked by an airbridge to the Waikanae Library - is also far wider, says Mr Mowbray.

“We are fundraising to provide the Kāpiti Coast and New Zealand with a significant new public art gallery. As Kāpiti continues to grow, this will be a much-needed and valued cultural and community facility for the Coast’s residents and visitors.

“With the Mahara Gallery’s strong growth in recent years it has become highly regarded among regional public galleries in New Zealand. We have simply run out of space, and don’t have the museum-standard facilities to cope with the high standard of exhibitions and wider public functions our community deserves from such a public asset.”

The gallery is being redeveloped in partnership with the Kāpiti Coast District Council, who are upgrading Waikanae Library at the same time. The two integrated public amenities will share a number of key facilities, including a new community meeting room overlooking Mahara Place. The building is being designed by award-winning Parsonson Architects and Tennent + Brown.

The Mahara Redevelopment Fund was launched this week with a new exhibition in the gallery detailing the Mahara Gallery’s history.

“This is now the wider community’s chance to contribute financially and ensure the gallery development goes ahead, so that the Kāpiti Coast has a cultural facility it can truly be proud of,” says Mr Mowbray.

For more information and images contact: Janet Bayly, Director, Mahara Gallery, email: janet.maharagallery@paradise.net.nz; phone: 04 902 6242

Background to Redevelopment

• Building plans for the redevelopment are currently being finalised, and the Mahara Gallery Trust Board looks forward to announcing further details on the new gallery building and its facilities shortly.

• In 2010 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Council, the Mahara Gallery Trust and the Field Collection Trust to make Mahara the Kāpiti Coast’s regional art gallery, and commence the redevelopment.

• Under this Memorandum, Mahara undertook the role, when redevelopment is complete, to become the custodian of the Field Collection and become responsible for its storage and care, making it available to the public in exhibitions, to researchers and other institutions on loan.

• At the same time Mahara will continue to offer an even wider ranging programme of exhibitions and associated activities, which has in recent years, led to its growing reputation both locally and nationally. The professional facilities and purpose built spaces will make more ambitious activities possible.

• Initial concept designs for the building redevelopment have already revealed a unique visual element: the gallery and library will be linked by a cloak gently folding across the roof which is made of Kaynemaile, a contemporary totally recycled and sustainable New Zealand-made material. The cloak will reference the folds of the hills behind Waikanae, the bicultural history of the district and the forms in Frances Hodgkins’ paintings. Providing a visual icon for both the gallery and Kapiti District, it will draw visitors to the region and provide a symbol of shared identity.

Further Fundraising Information

• The Mahara Gallery is registered as a charitable trust and donations are tax deductible. They can be kept anonymous or publicly acknowledged as requested.

• All monies raised will go to the project, with administrative and promotional expenses kept to a minimum.

• Funds for the redevelopment will be administered by Breaden McCardle Chubb Lawyers in a separate account.

Background to the Field Collection

• Frances Hodgkins (1869-1947) is New Zealand’s most famous and best-loved expatriate artist. Her sister and fellow artist, Isabel, married M.P. and Kāpiti landowner Will Field, and Frances Hodgkins’ ashes now lie in the family plot in Waikanae Cemetery. Hodgkins was very close to her sister Isabel, felt a romantic attachment to Kāpiti, and said that Waikanae had become ‘ancestral’ for their family after their mother Rachel was buried there in 1926.

• After Frances Hodgkins left New Zealand in 1901 to pursue a serious artistic career in Europe, the Field’s family homes became her New Zealand ‘home-base’, and over the next 40 years she brought or sent many artworks back here for exhibitions in New Zealand and Australia, or just to be cared for. This work, along with that of her sister Isabel, their father William Mathew, and other contemporaries, became formalised as the Field Collection in 1991.

• Mahara Gallery has developed two major exhibitions of Frances Hodgkins’ work and the Field Collection. In 2000 Avenal McKinnon, now The New Zealand Portrait Gallery director, curated the Frances Hodgkins, The Link to Kapiti, The Field Collection for the NZ International Arts Festival 2000, and then it toured nationally. The second in 2010 also loaned from other private Kāpiti collections and spanned the 1890s until the 1940s. Both exhibitions proved enormously popular with local, national and international visitors.

• The Field Collection contains 44 works. 24 of these are by Frances Hodgkins and the rest are by her sister Isabel, father William Mathew Hodgkins, and other artists associated with all three, including Girolamo P. Nerli, Edmund T. Gouldsmith, John Gully, Petrus Van der Velden, James Nairn, D.K. Richmond and Lorna Ellis.

Mahara Gallery Background

• Mahara Gallery has grown from a modest community gallery started 16 years ago by volunteers, to build a national profile as a young and dynamic regional public art gallery, attracting national and international visitors, as well as representing the region’s artists and serving its public.

• Mahara Gallery has been a biennial contributor to the NZ International Festival of the Arts since 2000, has launched the Black and Silver collections of the celebrated Real Art Roadshow, and also developed and toured four nationally touring exhibitions.

• Mahara Gallery has had a partnership agreement and received an annual grant from the Kapiti Coast District Council, its major funder, since 2001.

• Local artists and residents initiated Mahara Gallery in Mahara Place in 1995 and it was developed, manned and fundraised solely by volunteers, who sustained a lively multicultural exhibition and events programme for the first six years. Their vision from the outset was to develop it into a district public gallery. Mahara’s road from its beginnings to the current redevelopment plans is testament to the spirit and determination of the community.


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