I am currently in Christchurch. The city was devastated by an earthquake six years ago. As an outsider the city appears to have mixed feelings. Parts appear like a building site, others are falling deeper into decay. New builds and small pockets of creativity mainly in the form of shipping containers serving as shops are jostled in-between street art, food caravans and pop up gallery spaces.
I was told that Christchurch was deeply conservative but it seems that the city’s spoliation has created wonderful pockets of creativity. Popping up out of the dirt of the quake like mushrooms.
On the other side of town there are 185 white chairs. They consist of arm chairs, wheelchairs, easy chairs, kitchen chairs, high chairs, baby chairs and are representational of the 185 people who died six years ago. The sense of loss in Christchurch is vast the ‘two degrees of separation rule’ guarantees there is name you know or know of on the list.
Lastly I reach the cathedral… all cities have a place that is identified with the uniqueness of their location. Sadly Christchurch cathedral lies in tatters. The heart of the city is broken. I feel that unless this beacon of identity in Christchurch is mended that the very essence of the city will remain in ruins.
The people of Christchurch need their identity as much as there city restored to them. The cathedral is their postcard scene, their meeting place, their reference point it’s their ‘what I am doing New Years Eve’. To see it sat in the shadows of scaffolding, and pigeon shit is like a lighthouse with no light. I am shocked to see that no one has considered covering ‘the body’ it lays open as a permanent reminder to residents and visitors alike. Taunting those who have no memory of its glory days are images on plaques outside the fenced parameter , this is what you could have seen six years ago…
Hanging in the balance the cathedral now has become a thorn in some residents sides the inability to decide the landmarks fate only increases the sense of anxiety in the city’s ‘war like’ appearance.
It seems relatively simple to me, repairing the cathedral would repair the morale of city that seems so desperately in need of it.