The loss of architectural heritage in Christchurch’s past and present, and consideration for the city’s future are considered in a visually rich outdoor exhibition on Worcester Boulevard.
Reconstruction: conversations on a city opens on Worcester Boulevard, between Montreal and Durham Streets from 23 June 2012. It is part of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu’s Outer Spaces programme.
It is also one of the first in a range of Christchurch City Council transitional city projects to be installed within Christchurch’s Central City. The projects, which were agreed to as part of the draft Central City Recovery Plan are designed to bring new life and people back to the heart of the city, and to help support business.
Curator Ken Hall says that the selection of digitised drawings, photographs, paintings, maps and plans provide a compelling visual account of how the city developed.
Tracking the story of Christchurch / Otautahi from its earliest years, the outdoor exhibition examines the city’s foundations, acknowledges loss and demonstrates how different dreams and values have been given form in our built environment.
“The level of detail seen in some of the enlarged images in the exhibition is breathtaking, compared to what you might see in the original photographs particularly. I love being able to see the detail and the degree of craft and care that has gone into the design and construction of these buildings. There is further pleasure in seeing into the images - children at play, a person directing traffic, or the text on a poster pasted on the side of a building.
“Walking through the exhibition, it is possible to see the architectural layers of the city, almost in an archaeological way. First, the wooden buildings, then the transition from wood, to brick, to stone. We see for example, through a stunning series of photographs the Canterbury Provincial Council Chambers emerging out of the undulating, swampy tussock land. As a whole, the exhibition presents each of us with an opportunity to build a strong mental imprint of the city’s past. Every person will bring their own memories and attachments to their experience of the exhibition.”
Written contributions from a range of local commentators, many of whom are architectural historians are displayed alongside the images. The commentaries raise important questions, says Mr Hall.
“We have to ask whether this city can be rebuilt as a place of genuine quality and interest if we undervalue the significance of our rich architectural heritage past.”
Reconstruction: conversations on a city continues until 16 September 2012.