Southland’s first woman architect to be showcased in exhibition

The work of Southland’s first registered woman architect will be showcased at He Waka Tuia’s upcoming exhibition.

Monica Barham: So You’re Building: You and the Architect, exhibition champions the contribution Barham has made to art and architecture across Invercargill and New Zealand.

Exhibition Collaborator, Architect Megan Rule said Barham was a world-class architect, who had spent most of her life in Southland.

“Monica was a revolutionary in her field at a time when architecture was a heavily male-dominated industry. As the first female registered architect in both Otago and Southland she played a pivotal role in mid-century design in the South.

“Very little was actually recorded or known of Monica, even though many of her designs can still be seen around Invercargill today. One of her buildings, the medical centre located at 69 Don Street, recently received a New Zealand Institute of Architects Enduring Architecture Award.”

Rule, who is also a distinguished architect herself, having received international awards and recognition for her work, said she had looked up to Barham and her achievements.

“In the earlier days of my career it was difficult to find local female role-models in the industry – until I learned of Monica. Through the exhibition, I hope we can inspire the next generation of budding architects through Monica’s work and achievements.”

He Waka Tuia Manager Sarah Brown said Barham’s activities extended well beyond her architectural pursuits.

“Monica was an avid artist and in the 1970s became the President of Invercargill’s Anderson Park Art Gallery. She was well respected in art circles, and we currently have six of her watercolour paintings in our collection.”

The exhibition will run from 11 May to 16 June at He Waka Tuia. As part of the exhibition Megan Rule will also be giving a floor talk at 11am on Saturday 18 May. This is a free event and members of the public are invited to attend.