Christchurch Revisited

Beautiful historic New Regent street.  Here you can almost pretend that no earthquakes had happened in Christchurch.

Beautiful historic New Regent street. Here you can almost pretend that no earthquakes had happened in Christchurch.

A few days ago I spent two days in Christchurch at the end of a 10 day New Zealand holiday.  I had also visited the earthquake-ravaged city in August last year.  I was curious to see the changes between then and now.  This post is a small photo album of how Christchurch is looking in April 2014.

How wonderful to see that the trams have started again.  Also it is incredible that there is so little damage in New Regent Street!  It is well and truly open for business.

How wonderful to see that the trams have started again. Also it is incredible that there is so little damage in New Regent Street! It is well and truly open for business.

I enjoyed coming across art in the streets.  This is a different kind of street art; SANCTIONED street art.  Some of it is organized by Christchurch Art Gallery.  Its own building is still closed while extensive repairs take place.  Therefore it has been instrumental in putting copies of its pictures out and about.

A ballerina from Swan Lake is being sprayed onto a wall.  You can see the artist working from the cherry-picker.

A ballerina from Swan Lake is being sprayed onto a wall. You can see the artist working from the cherry-picker.

Twisted reinforcing mesh makes a good spot for pigeons.

Twisted reinforcing steel makes a good spot for pigeons. (I couldn’t help noticing the pigeons when I was photographing the big ballerina mural.)

Notice the art works on this building...

Notice the art works on this building…

Here is a closer view.

Here is a closer view.

Another piece organized by the Christchurch Art Gallery.  It is lovely to come across these images when you are walking in Christchurch.

Another piece organized by the Christchurch Art Gallery. It is lovely to come across these images when you are walking in Christchurch.

Can you see the subject of this painting?  Crazed seagulls.

An enormous mural of sea birds covers a wall.

A striking abstract wall.

A striking abstract wall.

One of the two large knomes who stand to attention outside the Christchurch Art Gallery.

One of the two large gnomes who stand to attention outside the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Dance floor complete with music (which you can change to suit yourself) and disco ball.

Suspended dance floor complete with music and disco ball.

Here is the source of the music - a musicked-up washing machine.  Please enjoy DANCE O MAT.

Here is the source of the music – a musicked-up washing machine. Please enjoy DANCE O MAT.  Seriously – you can choose your song!

Sometimes small gardens have been erected but in most cases it is just hard ground and lots of it.

This huge mural (you can see the size of it compared to the man standing in front of it) tells us that this is a strip joint.

This huge mural (you can see the size of it compared to the man standing in front of it) tells us that this is a strip joint.

Public art juxtaposes with buildings and space to make some strange compositions.

Public art juxtaposes with buildings and space to make some strange compositions.

Sometimes it is the traffic sign which inadvertently becomes art.

Sometimes it is the traffic sign which inadvertently becomes art.

There is too much space in Christchurch.  Remember this was a city.  It was hard to find a car park before September 2010.  Now one is so aware of SPACE.

Three walkers through - what was here?  High Street, Manchester Street?  I forget.

Three walkers stride through – what was here? High Street, Manchester Street? I forget.

Huge spaces around the Forsyth Barr builidng.  In the earthquake of February 22nd 2011, the staircases inside this office block collapsed.

Huge spaces around the Forsyth Barr builidng. In the earthquake of February 22nd 2011, the staircases inside this office block collapsed.  Workers had to be rescued through an upper-storey window.

This was a block of extremely expensive and brand new apartments.  It is being demolished right now.  You can see a hole in the wall?  That is where the building next door was hitting it during the quake.

This was a block of extremely expensive and brand new apartments. It is being demolished right now. You can see a hole in the wall?.. (near the top and to the left). That is where the building next door was hitting it during the shaking.

Some of the massive empty spaces have been planted with grass making urban paddocks.  Here is Matthew posing for me on one of the paddocks.

Some of the massive empty spaces have been planted with grass making urban paddocks. Here is Matthew posing for me on grass where city buildings used to stand.

More grass with a church behind which I believe will be saved.

More grass with a church behind which I believe will be saved.

We briefly went out to the coast to the suburb of Sumner.

Here is some vertical space which developed with huge rockfalls.  Nobody would have expected cliffs to fall away.

Here is some vertical space which developed with huge rockfalls. Nobody would have expected cliffs to fall away.

Not so far from the site of the cliff in the last photo is a landmark which had been known as Shag Rock.  Can you believe the forces which shattered an enormous rock?  Now it is known as Shag Pile.

Not so far from the site of the cliff in the last photo is a landmark which had been known as Shag Rock. Can you believe the forces which shattered an enormous rock? Now it is known as Shag Pile. (Very droll!)

The Port Hills have some new shapes.  There didn't used to be a nipple here but now there is.  It is nice to see that Ferrymead Riding School is still here by the way.

The Port Hills have some new shapes. There didn’t used to be a nipple here but now there is. It is nice to see that Ferrymead Riding School is still here by the way.

Back in town, I’ll finish by showing you the new Cardboard Cathedral.  The old Anglican Cathedral is still in tatters in Cathedral Square.

The Wizard of New Zealand - yes, there really is such a character - wants to save the Anglican Cathedral in The Square.

The Wizard of New Zealand – yes, there really is such a character – wants to save the Anglican Cathedral in The Square.

The Transitional Cathedral, better known as the Cardboard Cathedral.

The Transitional Cathedral, better known as the Cardboard Cathedral.

While debate rages about what to do with the iconic Anglican Cathedral in Cathedral Square, there is a new Transitional Cathedral made of CARDBOARD!   It is designed by Japanese Architect, Shigeru Ban who has this year won the Pritzker Architecture Prize.  You can read about his award here – http://www.pritzkerprize.com/2014/announcement

Interior view towards alter.  Even the cross is cardboard.

Interior view towards altar. Even the cross is cardboard.

I thought the windows might be perspex but no, they are glass.  There is a beautiful atmosphere of peace and hope inside the Transitional Cathedral.

I thought the windows might be perspex but no, they are glass. There is a beautiful atmosphere of peace and hope inside the Transitional Cathedral.

A suspended sculpture of a steeple hangs in Latimer Square.  Beyond the trees is the Transitional Cathedral.

A suspended sculpture of a steeple hangs in Latimer Square. Beyond the trees is the Transitional Cathedral.

Matt and I both had the song “(Nothing But) Flowers” by Talking Heads playing in our heads while we were walking around the city.  Some of the lines are, “There was a shopping mall/Now it’s all covered with flowers/you’ve got it, you’ve got it/If this is paradise/I wish I had a lawnmower/you’ve got it, you’ve got it/This was a discount store/Now it’s turned into a cornfield/you’ve got it, you’ve got it…” And the final lines are “Don’t leave me stranded here/I can’t get used to this lifestyle.”  (Apologies to Talking Heads as I have only picked out a few of their lines.)

If you would like to look back on my August Christchurch visit click here.  I was told that 70,000 people left since the shaking began in September 2010.  The population is growing again now as the city rebuilds.

About juliepodstolski

I am a realist artist who works in coloured pencils.
Image | This entry was posted in art, photo portraits of cities, photography, street art, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Christchurch Revisited

  1. sherrytelle says:

    So very interesting Julie! My son is working towards going to New Zealand on a 1 year work visa, as he did in Australia. I worry about the instability there, but then I worried about Australia, and South East Asia. My heart sank into my feet when that plane went down because my son flew on Malaysia Air out of Kuala Lumpur 4 times. Silly I know. It is very interesting to see how they are coping after the devastation, thanks for posting Cous!

    • Sherry, I bet your son will have a ball in New Zealand. As you well point out in your comment, life is risky – and there are plenty of ways to be ‘caught out’. However New Zealand must surely be one of the safest places on the planet for your son to spend a year. He probably won’t want to leave. It is full of young travellers/back-packers so the vibe is lively and optimistic.
      I didn’t mention in my post but there are plenty of Christchurch areas where you can’t tell anything happened as everything looks exactly the same as before. ie the damage is in some places but not others depending on ground types and fault lines.

  2. Very interesting perspective on Christchurch Julie. We were there in February and I now know more about we saw at the time. I added a few more photos to your facebook post from then showing more of what you have written about in your blog post. Very eery in CBD with so much gravel, damaged buildings with plastic wrap flapping in the wind, chainmesh fence & road cones all through CBD – the roads aren’t the roads, cranes everywhere but only a few people. Also weird to drive out of the CBD into areas which look like there were never any earthquakes.

    • It’s hard to get one’s head around, isn’t it, Rachel. I thought I’d be prepared this time but it was still a shock to see second visit. In fact there were even MORE empty spaces than last time as more buildings had been demolished in the interim. I’ll go onto facebook and have a look at your photos now…

  3. julie says:

    Very informative for me Julie – I have yet to visit New Zealand – on my list! x

    • I plan to inspire you, Julie, to take that trip. Over the next three weeks or so I intend to post some gorgeous images of lakes, mountains, glaciers and forests; landscapes which make up New Zealand. It really is breath-taking.

  4. loved NZ, was there for almost a month about 9 years ago, really really want to go back. Would love to move there but having MS kinda stops me :/ the whole place is gorgeous, and i can’t remember anyone really being rude or angry

    I have a friend in Christchurch, so its a little worrying when there are more aftershocks .:/

    • Jennifer, you’re right. People are, for the most part, very friendly in New Zealand. In fact they seem more softly spoken and kind of gentle than Australians do. Regarding aftershocks, there have been so many that I expect they are hardly worth a mention by the locals unless they are over a certain size.

  5. Really interesting post Julie, it is so interesting to see how a city heals itself after such a catastrophe. Karen

    • It is hard going, Karen. People get so worn out with it all. Do you know there have been about 2,500 shakes? So it isn’t like – this happened and now we’ll move on. It happened…and happened…and still happens. Everybody hopes the worst is over but you never know.

      • It is beyond my comprehension, I don’t know how you deal with the fact that the very ground you stand on and build your life on is not solid, then to have that brought home to you over 2,500 times. These are brave and determined souls and I stand in awe of them!

      • It IS hard to comprehend, Karen. So much of our planet is seismic though and some of our most populated areas too.

  6. Jeannie Beauchamp says:

    Thank you for your comment about the “beautiful atmosphere of peace and hope inside the Transitional Cathedral” – it’s good to know that such an atmosphere is possible even inside a church made of cardboard, built in a city where so much was destroyed.
    I suppose that the “cardboard” must be a very unusual kind, treated to make it strong and resistant – and I wonder how warm it is in there?

    • Jeannie, temperature didn’t occur to me but it was still warm in Christchurch. Good point! I wonder what it will be like in winter? One thing I learned was that the cathedral is used a great deal – for concerts as well as regular services. The stage can be disassembled so the building can even be hired out for dinner parties! (..and has been.) Matt picked up a piece of the cardboard as there is a little room off the side where you can look at the bits and pieces. It was extremely heavy. In any case the building withstood the recent floods very well.
      There is no doubt that the spirit of peace was all around!

  7. I love that street art! To me, to have that happening (on top of all the rebuilding and fixing up that is going on) shows such hope. I have only briefly passed through Christchurch, so wouldn’t really know the difference, but it must be very strange going somewhere that was once so familiar to find it upside down and nothing where it should be. I would like to think that the cardboard cathedral is not just temporary – it sounds such a wonderful idea. Isn’t it interesting how some places of worship have that sense of peace?

    • Hi Anna, the nice lady who was there to talk to anyone and everyone who came into the cardboard cathedral said that they (the Anglicans) have it for 10 years. I didn’t get around to asking what will happen to it after that. I believe the Anglicans will have their new cathedral in Cathedral Square by then. They’ve said they’re pulling down the damaged one and replacing it. Many people don’t want the old one to come down but many others think it is high time for a better space than the old cathedral…one that isn’t fusty and old-fashioned. As for me, well I didn’t mind the old cathedral; nor do I mind the idea of a wonderful new one.
      Regarding the Christchurch street art, you can imagine my delight in seeking it out last week. During my two days I swung between sense of hope/optimism and sense of it’s-all-too-much-to-bear. Matthew felt the same.

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