Our darkest rooms

Behind the scenes

One of the things I've noticed the most is how Christchurch has tidied things up.


I read people writing about cleaning up drawers of smashed jam jars covered with apricot jam with cold water, sweeping, digging, mopping up liquefaction, stacking broken things. This is a hard thing to do. When things pile up, it's easier to just close the door.

I lived once with someone who never tidied up. She hoarded, stored, collected. There was a room in our house that was full of things. I could barely open the door for the piles, pushing against the light. One time I showed a friend inside, and she, fascinated, said oh Sian, you have to draw it! I said darling, I can barely stand to look at it, let alone draw it. For me, it was the ultimate expression of denial, hiding things, not being able to face it all. I am greatly moved, impressed, and humbled by the persistent, steady cleaning and tidying that has been done and is being done in Christchurch on such a huge scale. Every stacked pile of wood, every mountain of rubble which is sorted through speaks of resistance, of hope, of determination to move on, but not till we've sorted this stuff out.