Mahara Gallery redevelopment will showcase Frances Hodgkins’ extensive art collection

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Artist’s impression of the new Mahara gallery.

After many years of planning and fundraising, the redevelopment of the Mahara Gallery in Waikanae, north Wellington, will begin early next month.

The renovation will take 12 months, after which the gallery will be transformed into a modern and adapted art gallery.

One of the highlights will be the permanent home of the Field Collection with 44 works of art and associated documents, including 24 paintings by Frances Hodgkins, New Zealand’s most famous expatriate painter.

The Field Collection Trust donated the collection to the gallery several years ago on condition that the gallery was upgraded to accepted international standards.

The trust was keen to have the collection in the gallery, particularly due to Frances Hodgkins’ close association with Waikanae.

Hodgkins referred to Waikanae as an ancestral home and its ashes are buried in a family plot in the local cemetery.

Frances Hodgkins in her studio Bowen St Wellington c1905.  Photo / Field Collection Trust
Frances Hodgkins in her studio Bowen St Wellington c1905. Photo / Field Collection Trust

The revamped gallery will be a calling card of Waikanae, not to mention the wider Kāpiti coastline, and give the gallery the opportunity to present high profile exhibitions.

Levin’s Crowe Construction has been selected to lead the redevelopment and will follow plans created by Athfield Architects.

The Kāpiti Coast District Council will work with contractors to minimize the impacts on businesses and residents and to keep everyone informed of the works.

“Crowe Construction has a strong track record of delivering successful projects for the council, so we are delighted to have them on the team to rebuild the Mahara Gallery,” said Deputy Mayor Janet Holborow, arts portfolio holder and of the culture.

Project partners, the Mahara Gallery Trust Board and the Field Collection Trust, welcomed the award of a contract.

“It is a huge relief for us to know that the gallery will be upgraded to accepted museum standards so that our gift to Mahara from the nationally recognized Field Collection can be accepted,” said Kay Brown, administrator of the Field Collection.

“The upgrade will provide a specially designed gallery with double the number of exhibition galleries and almost triple the amount of exhibition space,” said the chairman of the board of the Mahara Gallery Trust, Gordon Shroff.

Artist's impression of the interior of the new Mahara Gallery.
Artist’s impression of the interior of the new Mahara gallery.

“The trust is now focused on securing the remaining financing required for the project and ensuring that the gallery continues to have a presence in Kāpiti during the construction period.”

The Kāpiti Coast District Council is contributing $ 2.8 million of the project’s estimated cost of $ 6.5 million. Of this, the Waikanae Community Board is contributing $ 250,000.

The remaining funding is the responsibility of the Mahara Gallery Board of Trustees which has so far attracted a grant of $ 2.1 million (excluding GST and including a sum of $ 0.432 million) from the Regional Culture Fund and heritage from the Department of Culture and Heritage, $ 450,000 from the New Zealand Lottery Board Environment and Heritage Fund and over $ 1.5 million from private and individual trusts.

The Board has pledged to cover any shortfall in fundraising in trust, currently less than 10% of the cost of the project, so that construction can begin.

“It’s fantastic to get to this after so many years of planning,” said Holborow.

“The enhanced gallery will suit our creative community and a facility that can house and display the Field collection and other taonga.

“It will be a cultural hub for our growing neighborhood.

“We still have funds to raise, so watch out for opportunities to support our efforts.”

The public toilets adjacent to the gallery will close when the building closes.

Before the construction of a new permanent sanitary block, temporary accessible toilets will be installed nearby.


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