Hennessy Kear

Shining light on Mary Jane – a chronicle of untold tales


This project uses spatial narratives to bring to light the history of Mary Jane Bennett, the first and only woman lighthouse keeper in New Zealand, at Pencarrow Head Lighthouse in Wellington. The history of Mary Jane and her family are embedded into the site. Thus, constructing a subterranean chronicle that uses light to pierce through the landscape and illuminate her untold tales.

The designed spaces below ground correspond to the original buildings that sat alongside the lighthouse above ground, before they were demolished. There are four main rooms that transform a small section of Bennett’s history at Pencarrow into an atmospheric spatial experience for the public. The central pathway acts as a mechanism to unite the narrative and facilitate curiosity.

Unite – a transition space that leads the viewer back in time, with tension between going both closer and further away from the ‘light’.
Roxburgh – inspired by the Bennett family’s journey from England on the Duke of Roxburgh, to their destination, the first lighthouse cottage at Pencarrow Head.
Shelter – references the ‘cave-like’ structure the Bennett family used as their secondary shelter because the first cottage was barely wind or water resistant.   
Being – a lonely, contemplation space for a working family.

Bachelor of Design (Hons)

Close up detail of final 1:25 pencil on canvas drawing. The room of 'Shelter'.
Close up detail of final 1:25 pencil on canvas drawing. The room of 'Unite'.
Call out detail of final pencil on canvas drawing. The room of 'Shelter'.
A page from A3 process booklet. The room of 'Roxburgh'.


Block 12
Level C

View on map