The Collection

I hit browse and there it was. The collection. I had slowly built up both a resistance and a feeling of attachment to this collection. Stuffy musty rooms from 1986. Quiet and fresh white walls when it was raining outside. Sunshine on a book through the window on a late-winter afternoon. Christchurch. This collection I recognised instantly, and I felt the repulsion as well as the comfortable feeling.

A family relationship. Looking at these pieces one by one it was hard for me to find any specific reaction apart from the obvious. A familiar style of landscape, a typical set of colours, the view of adulthood through my distant childhood eyes. A feeling of deeper meaning waiting to join my experience. And then the world of extended family, weirdo uncles, cousins and peripherals. Were these part of the collection? The smell of the halls in the Arts Centre? The cool feeling of shade in the trees of the Botanic Gardens? The sausage rolls in the museum, smelt from the fake street downstairs? The huge see-through box of money in the foyer? Donations.

I went to other towns and saw the same donation boxes. I saw similar collections in Edinburgh, Germany, Cleveland and Melbourne and wondered if people in these towns had the same family relationship to these other collections. Proudly recommending the Gallery to me, I sometimes asked what was there and they laughed before admitting they didn’t know. Slowly it dawned on me that the collection was like a family. I looked through the updated online catalogue from Christchurch, and expected it to be fresh and new, something that would jump out at me. I saw the same pictures and stalwarts from the old collection I had never realised was a collection till I saw them all lined up on one page. I scrolled through and felt my experiences of this Gallery and its connections breathe into my body and reopen a side of Christchurch I had forgotten existed. A side of Christchurch I carried around inside me. I knew it was there but had never realised how much of it was created by standing and staring at pictures.

Appeared in

1 September 2016

Delaney Davidson

Musician and writer

Delaney Davidson, Woolston’s best-kept secret, spends half his time in New Zealand and the other half touring his music in Europe and the USA.