Kāpiti Coast’s District Public Art Gallery, MAHARA, is introducing a new visual identity to coincide with the redevelopment of the gallery building.
Mahara Gallery Trust Board Chairman Gordon Shroff says the Gallery is now to be known as Toi MAHARA, a name and identity that best reflects its connections and aspirations.
“The completion of the new gallery building is the right time to ensure that our name and the way it is represented embodies our relationship with our most important stakeholders and our role as the district gallery for Kāpiti,” he says.
“The name Mahara was a koha to us from Te Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai. It is essential that we recognise the mana of the gift and represent it in a manner that respects the values and beliefs of the giver, as well as the other tangata whenua of our district – Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Toa Rangatira, and the diverse communities of Kāpiti, it’s arts and culture.
“These considerations were set out in the brief to our designer and typographer, Catherine Griffiths of Studio Catherine Griffiths.
“The Board is delighted with the way she has woven elements of tangata whenua culture and the new building’s design into a visual identity that is elegant, distinctive and challenging in a manner consistent with the role of a public art gallery.”
Gordon Shroff said staff were now working to ensure that the name and its associated design elements were incorporated into all aspects of the Gallery’s activities, from website to stationery and signage.
Designer and typographer Catherine Griffiths says the visual identity, in her words, had to be a thing of beauty that would resonate, and embody the many parts of the gallery, from iwi and community, the artists and their works, to its almost 30-year history.
“The gallery is a very public space, and the M tohu, the name, which is at the heart of the redeveloped Toi MAHARA’s visual identity, is the flag, the figure, the typographic face,” she says.
Catherine Griffiths says she regarded the commission from the gallery board as being given a gift.
“To design a new mark, a tohu, that would house and represent the gallery, the whare toi in a respectful way—that’s special.
“I know I felt the weight of responsibility to honour the name gifted by Te Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai and the role I had been given. Yet the design, which is set as typographic, happened very instinctively, intuitively.
“The construction of letterforms makes clear reference to the architecture—first seen as elevations in the drawings by Athfield Architects—serendipitously, the original bones of the building cleverly retained in the new.
“You can recognise the distinctive angled roof line, the interior spaces reaching tall, upwards, and the lineal detailing of steel structures and joinery. It all just naturally fitted together.”
Catherine Griffiths says how the new identity manifests over time with the vision intact will be in the hands of its kaitiaki.
“It will demand love and attention in its implementation as it plays out, and ongoing care, in its maintenance,” she says.
Toi MAHARA opens on October 28 after an eighteen-month rebuild of the former Mahara Gallery building, the outcome of a partnership involving the Mahara Gallery Trust Board, Kāpiti Coast District Council and the Field Collection Trust.