With its long stretch of coast to the west, the Tararua Range foothills rising on the other side, and commuter traffic to Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington flying down Transmission Gully, the Kāpiti Coast is a lively mountains-to-sea corridor of weather, people and sea life. Over the past twenty-four months, this activity has been reflected in an extensive redevelopment of Toi MAHARA (previously Mahara Gallery) in Waikanae’s town centre. In late October, Toi MAHARA, led by Director Janet Bayly, look forward to inaugurating their new space, a two-storey gallery designed by Athfield Architects, the team behind The Dowse Art Museum, Whirinaki Whare Taonga and Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery, with four discrete exhibitions. Fifty artists from the Kāpiti region will show their work in Te Manawa Toi Coastlands Gallery as part of the Kāpiti Coast Art Trail; the Ōtaki Weavers Collective are showing Whiriwhiria in the Ringa Toi Artists’ Gallery; a project featuring environmentally inspired sculpture and filmed poetry by Paekākāriki school students will show in the Waipuna Toi Community Space; and a curated show featuring artworks from the Field Collection, and treasures from other private and whānau collections will take place in the Taonga Tuku Iho Heritage Gallery.
In all, Toi MAHARA will deliver an enlarged museum-standard district gallery for Kāpiti and a rich new anchor point for the arts and cultural precinct of Waikanae that connects the gallery, library, cinema and marae. This is reflected in the visual identity Catherine Griffiths has designed for this new chapter, the letters standing like interlocking porticos, a typographic gesture to the gallery’s mission to provide space to artists and welcome audiences of all kinds to experience its programme. Over time these will include public activations, performances, market days, monthly film screenings co-hosted by the gallery and Shoreline Cinema, and projects developed in partnership with Whakarongotai Marae and Te Wānanga o Raukawa.
Toi MAHARA will celebrate its opening with a two-day festival of events over 28–29 October.