We’re taking our long-awaited reopening as an opportunity to reunite you with the art we collect and care for on Christchurch’s behalf. It’s a time for reunions with this remarkable treasury and also new introductions, as we showcase a selection of works acquired while we’ve been closed. Surprising, compelling, restorative and rewarding, it’s a reminder of all we’ve been missing and a promise of what’s to come. Thank you for sharing it with us.
I’m not the only one of us who thinks of the works in Christchurch’s public art collection as close friends, even family, so it’s been incredibly hard to have them unable to be seen for such an extended period.
Over the past almost five years, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu has operated as an emergency headquarters for Civil Defence, provided temporary accommodation for Christchurch City Council staff and undergone an intensive programme of ground remediation and building repairs. Following our retrofit with base-isolation, it’s now one of the safest and most resilient art museums in the world. Throughout this time, our collections have been securely stored on site, frustratingly absent from public view, except through our website and a few reproductions pasted up on walls around the city.
Now, as we reopen our doors, we are surer than ever of our Gallery’s crucial public role. Our collection is this city’s treasury of art, a pātaka of our history, a rich armoury of images, memories and ideas. It’s part of us, and it gets more interesting over time, as works of art connect with us and each other, combining with our histories to enrich us all. I’m incredibly proud of what this Gallery has achieved over our ‘earthquake years’—but even more excited about our future. With the reopening exhibitions, we’re returning to Christchurch the collections we’ve all have been separated from, filling our spaces with these for the first time in this building’s history.
Notes by Jenny Harper
Five years on
22 February 2016, Jenny Harper
Today is the fifth anniversary of the February earthquake of 2011 which devastated Christchurch. During that time, we and our city have been through so many different phases.
White Water Falls
23 January 2015, Jenny Harper
English artist Richard Long's White Water Falls (2012) in Sydney is really worth a look. It's a fantastic surprise in the stairwell atrium of the Kinghorn Cancer Centre in Darlinghurst (370 Victoria Street). It's not a place we'd normally go to view art, but totally rewarding - I was so pleased to be told about it when I was close by!
20 January 2015, Jenny Harper
I was delighted to be asked by Judith Blackall, curator at Sydney's National Art School Gallery to speak at the opening of their new Bill Culbert exhibition earlier this month. We had lent our floor sculpture Pacific Flotsam and it features here on the poster.
Chapman’s Homer at Placemakers Riccarton
3 November 2014, Jenny Harper
Following three months outside City Council's building on Worcester Boulevard – Christchurch's favourite bull can now be found at Placemakers Riccarton! That may sound a bit unusual, but these are strange times.