MAHARA Director Janet Bayly outside the temporary gallery, MAHARA iti.

A temporary art gallery is to open in Waikanae to maintain MAHARA Gallery’s presence in Kāpiti while the district gallery is being rebuilt nearby.

‘MAHARA iti’ is opening as part of architect Andrew Sexton’s relocation of his architectural business to Waikanae from Wellington.

MAHARA Director Janet Bayly says that when the Gallery closed for the rebuild in November of last year, she was resigned to not having a venue for exhibitions until the project is completed early next year.

“We had looked at spaces that might suit for a pop-up gallery, but none had quite worked out,” she said. 

“Then Andrew Sexton approached us. He said he planned to incorporate a small art gallery in his new offices in Mahara Place.

“He suggested that, during the settling-in period for his business, we might like to use the space.

“The result is MAHARA iti — iti means small.  Because the space is designed for displaying art, it will work well and we are delighted we have been able to take up his offer.

“MAHARA iti has the added advantage of being just across the lane from our temporary offices above the library.”

Janet Bayly says MAHARA will occupy the gallery space for six months from 14 March. The opening exhibition will be by Kāpiti-based photographic artist and lecturer Dr Mizuho Nishioka.

“We are privileged to have Dr Nishioka as our opening exhibitor. The fact that she has been invited to contribute work to this year’s Venice Biennale underlines the quality of her work and the extent of the reputation she has earned.”

Meanwhile, the Mahara Gallery Trust Board and its partners Kāpiti Coast District Council and the Field Collection Trust are pleased with the progress being made on the main gallery rebuild.

The laying of a Mauri Stone within the construction site has been a special moment in the redevelopment of the gallery.

The stone, provided by John Barrett from Waiorua Bay, Kāpiti Island, is a symbol for the wider district. It was laid in a pre-dawn ceremony on 11 February by representatives of local iwi: Kahu Ropata and Moana Parata from Te Atiawa and Callum Parata from Ngāti Toa.

The stone represents and protects the Mauri – the vitality or life force of both living and inanimate things as well as those who have gone before.

Mahara Gallery Trust Board Chairman Gordon Shroff says the significance of the Mauri Stone relates not only to the building and land (whenua), the artworks and taonga (treasures) it will contain.

“It has been placed in the foyer of the Gallery in a manner which makes it visible,” he says. “In that respect, it is a tangible reminder of the relationship between the Gallery and the iwi of Kapiti.”

The first exhibition in MAHARA iti, a temporary gallery in association with Andrew Sexton Architecture, is by Kāpiti-based photographic artist Dr Mizuho Nishioka, who lectures in photography in the School of Design, Victoria University Wellington.

Dr Nishioka’s work explores the relationship between representation and scientific depiction of the natural world. It centres on the technological production of the photographic image and how, through disruption of photographic procedures, a creative practitioner might arrive at new visual territories. 

Her work has been shown internationally and is in leading public and private collections. She has been invited to show in the European Culture Centre Exhibit in their ‘Personal Structures’  project at the Venice Bienniale 2022, the highly prestigious international art event spanning venues across Venice. 

She will be showing in a solo room in Palazzo Bembo from April to November 2022, and hopes she can get there herself ‘and stand with the creative giants there at that time’. 

Mizuho Nishioka, from her “North by NorthWest” series 2020