Arts Review award a ‘home-coming’ for Ben Caldwell


Mahara Arts Review Open Award winner Ben Caldwell (centre) with his winning work, My Burning House and Review judges Victoria Robson (left) and Jim Gorman (right).


Mahara Gallery Arts Review premier award winner Ben Caldwell has described his achievement as both an honour and a home-coming.


The premier, John Mowbray Open Award, which comes with a $1,000 prize, was announced along with five others at a Gallery function on Saturday (2 November) coinciding with the opening of the Kāpiti Arts Trail.


The event also marked 10 years of Mahara Arts Reviews, launched originally to give Kāpiti and Horowhenua artists the opportunity to showcase the diversity and quality of art being produced across the district.


“It was the idea of a review not a competition that intrigued me,” said Ben 
Caldwell. “I'm not one for competitions - I like the idea of art bringing people together.


“It is an honour and privilege to be acknowledged alongside some amazing work and artists. It feels like coming home to Wellington - Kāpiti Coast is where I'm meant to be.”


Ben won the Open Award with his sculpture, My Burning House, which draws inspiration from the whare tapa wha model for Maori health and well-being developed by Maori academic and researcher Sir Mason Durie and also from a proverb from Ghana.


Mahara Gallery Director Janet Bayly describes the work as something of the reverse of Noah’s Ark.


“The Burning House sits precariously atop its classic Kiwi wooden post like a washed up relic from a shipwreck. But it is also taking a raft of birds, plants and animals down with it.


“It's visualisation of climate change is presented in a way that viewers of all ages will be able to engage with and understand.”


Ben Caldwell was born in Palmerston North, grew up in Titahi Bay and now lives between Paraparaumu and Aotea.

He is in the process of setting up what he calls his “Artspace” – which includes a workshop and small gallery - in Paraparaumu.

His first exhibition was as an 18-year-old at Pataka. He went on to complete a Visual Arts Diploma at Whitirea, a Batchelor’s Degree at Weltec in 2007 and a Masters in Fine Arts (Honours) at the University of Auckland.

“Each year the Review attracts new artists, some of whom return for a solo show, as well as seasoned well-established and senior artists,” says Janet Bayly.


All of the 78 entries in the Review are currently being exhibited in Mahara Gallery. Artists’ entry fees and the commission on sales of their work will go towards the Gallery Redevelopment Fund.

The six award winners were chosen by an independent panel of curator Victoria Robson and Kāpiti artist Jim Gorman.


Other award winners were: Jean Fleming Highly Commended: Trevor Pye; Barry Herbert Student Award: Carina Toscano; Jane Hyder 3D Award: Judith Le Harivel; Kāpiti Signs 2D Award: Kate Hartmann; Picture Perfect Framing Special Merit Award: Nathan Waka Miller.


There is a seventh award to be decided, the People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Kāpiti Coffee Company. It is determined by popular vote and be will be presented on Saturday 7 December at 11.00 am.




Artists who received Mahara Arts Review Awards at the awards ceremony in Mahara Place. They are from left: Janet Bayly (Gallery Director), Judith Le Harivel (3D Award), Carina Toscano (Student Award), Kate Hartmann (2D Award), Ben Caldwell (Open Award), Trevor Pye (Highly Commended), Nathan Waka Miller (Special Merit Award).