Mahara ‘founder’ artists return for anniversary exhibition



Photo: the three Mahara Gallery founder-artists with Gallery Director, Janet Bayly. From left: Janet Bayly, Mary Zohrab, Bob Gibbs and Robyn Rogerson.


Three Kāpiti artists who were among the original group of artists and supporters responsible for the founding of Mahara Gallery 25 years ago, have returned to the Gallery to exhibit their work.

Mahara Marks 25 years, an exhibition featuring the work of Mary Zohrab, Robyn Rogerson and Bob Gibbs, was officially opened by the foundation Chairman of the Mahara Gallery Trust Board, Chris Turver.

“There are people in this room who deserve credit for their vision and courage in developing an idea and creating the reality,” he said.

“Since the first moves by the original Trust Board, Mahara Gallery has become a household name in our own district and the wider New Zealand.

“To all those who have made a contribution to that success over the last 25 years, thank you.”

“That debt includes our artists, our Patron Gillian Lady Deane, the chairs and members of the Gallery Trust Board, our valued staff and volunteers and the sponsors and donors who have made it financially possible to succeed.”

Chris Turver also paid tribute to Kāpiti Coast District Council for its original backing and then its recognition and operational funding of Mahara as the District Gallery for Kāpiti.

He noted that a small group of supporters and artists had discussed establishing a gallery in 1994 with the intention of bringing together the best of the local art world and show-case their works in a dedicated local gallery.

By 1995 a Trust Deed had been agreed with the founders nominated as Bob Gibbs, Robyn Rogerson, Margaret Trotter, Margaret Proctor, Fay Bresolin, Ani Parata, Anthony Arthur and Chris Turver. Bill Simpson provided valuable financial support.

An application for incorporation as a charitable trust was granted in January 1996. Chris Turver acknowledged the key support and promotional work at the time of Norma McCallum, Lloyd Parker who donated the use of his building and other supporters such as Ra Higgott, Jan Lurch and Peter Trim.

Chris Turver was appointed Chairman of the newly constituted board.

Among several factors critical to the success of the project, Chris Turver identified the importance of Kāpiti Coast District Council recognizing the value of the emerging Mahara Gallery as a district cultural asset with the potential to draw people to Kāpiti.

“To kick-start public awareness of the new trust board we agreed we needed a high-profile person, preferably an artist, to formally open the gallery. To our delight, Mary, Lady Hardie Boys, wife of the then Governor General, agreed to give us Vice Regal support.

“Better known to us in her own right as water-colour artist, Mary Zohrab, she accepted our invitation and a plaque inside the entrance to the Gallery records the opening date of 30 June, 1996.

“Her association with Mahara Gallery has continued ever since including her role as our first Patron.”

Chris Turver said that within months the public response to the first exhibitions and sales of work was so encouraging that it became clear to the Board that it might not be sufficient to simply act as a local art gallery.

“So, the next step was to start lobbying for acceptance as the Kāpiti District Gallery and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Mahara Marks 25 Years is showing in the Gallery’s NewSPACE until 16 February. Currently showing in the main gallery space is, In One Piece, an exhibition of work by Michelle Walton (Backhouse).

The Friends of Mahara are hosting a social gathering to share reflections on the gallery’s history and future with community founders and artists on Sunday 2nd February from 4pm – 5.30 and the exhibition runs until Sunday 16 February.