Wednesday, 5 November 2014


On Sunday 26th October we went into the central city to mark the Festival of Transitional Architecture. (FESTA)
It's hard to describe what I saw/ felt and thought, but I'll try...

Our city is in a state for flux. So much has been torn down. The grand buildings that remain standing are barricaded behind fences waiting for their turn to be either crushed into the dust of pre-quake memory or transformed and remodeled. For years they stood there, industrial, strong, concrete armored and standing tall in their geometric sureness, until the ground they stood on betrayed them.

Something struck me as I walked around the inner city that day. The silence. It was heavy and lonely.

And yes, those yawning empty spaces where buildings used to be practically screamed that silence.

 Yet amongst all this negative space, something else was beginning to take form. A new identity and tentative new voice. Whispers echo in those empty spaces speaking of a future beyond this current emptiness, loss and desolation.

We made our way toward a new fluttering heartbeat. That led us to the Transitional Cathedral, with it's looming presence, endless light and simple lines. This monument glowingly depicts the perfect triune nature of the deity it glorifies. Not only that but its very construction (out of cardboard and other renewables) speaks of  the inevitability of change here on Earth.

 There are many temporary solutions, while the larger rebuild gathers momentum. Each piece of installation art and each mural speaks of hope for the future (form, colour and vision). These structures inject much needed life and soul into a city that has had it heart torn down and out. 

I remember what it used to look like.

I have these wonderful paintings on our wall. These are a precious reminder (even more so now) for they depict a place that now only lives in our collective memory. These wonderful paintings were created by Susan Ferguson- an extraordinarily talented local artist.

Now as we walk down Oxford Terrace we are guarded on one side by the river and on the other stand the wire fences, protecting skeletal remains and empty space.
The wind funneled through this particular building, rattling the blinds. This discordant tune chilled me as it rose above the burble of the river and the hushed rush of distant cars.

An alternative to the mangled bones above is the Christchurch Town Hall. Here nature has started to get a foothold, giving it a strangely magical yet intensely lonely quality. It won't stay like this though. The town hall will be repaired eventually.

I'm not sure how our city will look in decades to come but I'm sure I will look upon the new spaces that emerge with a mixture of both excitement, and sadness. 
 Old will become new and this city will transition. It will stop looking mournfully at the past  and set its gaze upon a brighter future.

This is my hope, my prayer and my dream.

Photos: © 2014 Ami Hart/Jessica Colvin. 
 Paintings: © Susan Ferguson

No comments:

Post a Comment