Kāpiti gets vibrant public art

Kāpiti Art: Kate Hartmann at the transformed Waikanae Public Library building.

Community Art or Public art is the ultimate gift of the artist to their community. It is art we all can share, locals and visitors alike.

At its best, community art enlivens the space it inhabits, warms and enriches the lives of its viewers.

A recent example is in Waikanae’s Mahara Place. What was a dowdy, dark and gloomy space (The derelict library) has been transformed, colourised, dignified by public art.

Kate Hartmann and Ruth Robertson-Taylor produced a mural based on textile patterns of internationally renowned artist Frances Hodgkins. The Mahara Gallery houses the Field Collection which features many works by Hodgkins.

The transformative power of public art cannot be underestimated and in many cases around the world it is public art, be it buildings, towers, statues, that identifies the place to the world.

Not all public art is popularly received and there are sometimes mixed reviews. However the process is usually a well considered one, designed to reflect a viewpoint in keeping with the art’s location.

Ms Hartmann says the public feedback on the mural has been amazing. “People love to see something happening in this area and hopefully the concept can expand further into Mahara Place.”

There seems to be consensus around this view. KCNews asked views from many in Mahara Place this week and it was overwhelmingly positive. Many said they hoped this light and colour will spread will turn Mahara into a special place. This requires some courage on behalf of decision makers and public purse holders but the rewards will be very public.

Kāpiti Council’s Arts Panel has commissioned several public art works including the recently installed artwork Tohora by Kereama Taepa at Te Uruhi/Maclean Park at Paraparaumu Beach. (see photos below)

Waikanae, like many parts of Kāpiti, faced both threats and opportunities as a consequence of the Expressway going through. Sue Lusk of Destination Waikanae has put in a huge effort to encourage visitors and locals to enjoy what is on offer in Waikanae and this is clearly paying off with a real vibrancy in the town centre.