‘Priceless’ Hodgkins paintings may go unless Mahara extension goes ahead soon
By Jeremy Smith
Waikanae may lose the “priceless” Field collection- including early Frances Hodgkins paintings – if work in the Mahara gallery redevelopment is not speeded up.
The trustees of the Field collection, possibly the largest private art collection in New Zealand, say they are still waiting for a permanent home five years after they thought a viable plan for the gallery had been approved.
Dependent on the Waikanae redevelopment
They’ve set a deadline: if there’s no agreement between the KCDC and the Mahara Gallery Trust Board within 12 months the paintings could go.
The redevelopment of the gallery is part of planned redevelopment of the Waikanae town centre.
Gallery director Janet Bayley says the collection has been described as “legendary”.
They include paintings by significant early New Zealand artists, including Petrus van der Velden, John Gully, Charles Goldie, James Nairn and Hodgkin’s father. Her sister Isobel married Waikanae man Will Field, later a Member of Parliament.
The collection derives in part from their son, Frances Hodgkins’ nephew Peter Field.
Bayley says the paintings, some of which date before 1900, need to be housed properly with temperature and humidity control. She says having the fully housed collection would make Gallery rank close to the metropolitan collections of New Zealand.
Frustration over housing the collection
Field Collection Trustee Kay Brown says when other arts institutions approached them over the years about housing the collection they never responded.
She says they want the collection to stay in Kapiti but are pessimistic about the project going ahead.
Brown’s comments are in a message to the chairman of the Mahara Gallery Trust Board Professor Les Holborow.
They were released when Kevin Ramshaw from the board made a submission on the KCDC’s annual plan and budget.
KCDC keeps mum over delays
When asked, Council CEO Pat Dougherty could not give details about delays in the Waikanae redevelopment, including the gallery.
The original plans were for a new two-storey gallery, to cost $5.3 million – with two thirds coming from the trust itself and the final third from the KCDC and Waikanae Community Board.
The trust is now looking at the option of extending the existing building to two storeys.
The KCDC had set a target of June 30 2018 to come up with its share of the proposed development.