Exhibition

Reconstruction: Conversations on a City

By popular demand - extended until 14 October

In acknowledging architectural heritage loss in this city's present and past, this visually rich outdoor exhibition unfolds the ways in which dreams and values have been given form in our built environment.

Update: Publication available Wednesday 17 October.

Tracking the story of Christchurch / Otautahi from its earliest years, Reconstruction gathers together a fascinating selection of digitised drawings, photographs, paintings, maps and plans to provide a compelling visual account of how this place came to be. In examining foundations, it also acknowledges loss and, in reconstructing aspects of this city's past, it demonstrates how different dreams and values have been given form in our built environment. Contributions from a range of thoughtful commentators raise questions: can this city be rebuilt as a place of genuine quality and interest if it undervalues the significance of its rich architectural heritage past?

Find out more in the Reconstruction My Gallery set.

Reconstruction is one of the first in a range of Christchurch City Council transitional city projects to be installed within Christchurch's Central City.

Related

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Tjalling is Innocent

Tjalling is Innocent

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Phantom City: Doc Ross’s Christchurch 1998–2011

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W.B. Armson: A Colonial Architect Rediscovered

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Commentary
Bringing the Soul

Bringing the Soul

As an eleven-year-old boy from Whāngarei, sent to live in Yaldhurst with my aunt in the late seventies, Christchurch was a culture shock. Arriving in New Zealand’s quintessential ‘English city’, I remember well the wide landscapes and manicured colonial built environment. It was very pretty but also very monocultural, with no physical evidence of current or former Māori occupation or cultural presence, or at least none that I could appreciate at that time.

Commentary
St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Island Church

St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Island Church

Collection
Towards the Museum
Olivia Spencer Bower Towards the Museum
In the area just to the north west of Christchurch Cathedral, but taking a high view, this scene looks west towards the Canterbury Museum and the Botanic Gardens in Hagley park, with the Southern Alps in the far distance. By the 1960s Olivia Spencer Bower was firmly established as a significant Canterbury artist. Her broad brushwork creates a vibrant and lively scene and she has freely used washes of colour, showing her sure ability and control with the watercolour medium. Born in England, Spencer Bower was the twin daughter of the New Zealand artist Rosa Spencer Bower (née Dixon). The family came to New Zealand in 1919. Spencer Bower studied at the Canterbury College School of Art before going to the Slade School of Art in London in 1929. She returned to New Zealand in 1931. She devoted her life to painting and, late in her life, established a Foundation which finances an annual scholarship enabling an artist to work fulltime for one year.
Notes
Shandy anyone?

Shandy anyone?

It's pretty certainly the oldest shop in Christchurch. Although to be fair there's not really much competition for that title any more...

Notes
Nosferatwho?

Nosferatwho?

For me, the best bits in vintage photographs are often the bits the photographer didn't really mean to capture.

Notes
Heritage is still worth something

Heritage is still worth something

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu won a Civic Trust Award last night for the outdoor exhibition Reconstruction: conversations on a city. The exhibition on Worcester Boulevard closes this Sunday - the Reconstruction publication will be available within the next few days...

Notes
Worcester Boulevard exhibition extended as publication developed

Worcester Boulevard exhibition extended as publication developed

The popularity of Reconstruction: Conversations on a City has led to the exhibition being extended until 14 October, and the development of a publication.

Notes
X marks the spot

X marks the spot

A word that has been bandied about in and out of Christchurch, left, right and centre post February 22 is Resilience, a word that has little impact now whenever I hear it mentioned in relation to the earthquakes.

Notes
Doc Ross: Phantom City

Doc Ross: Phantom City

Wait 'til night comes and park up your car outside 464 Colombo Street in the new Sydenham. The neighbourhood is quiet, no late night shopping here – there seems nothing of that sort likely to turn up here for a fair while yet.

Notes
Reproductive cycle

Reproductive cycle

We are receiving quite a few requests for reproductions of the works in our Reconstruction exhibition.

Notes
After midnight...

After midnight...

'We're gonna give an exhibition.
We're gonna find out what it is all about.'

JJ Cale got it about right.

Notes
Christchurch in the Mist

Christchurch in the Mist

Not even dark, cold, grey weather on Sunday could deter the citizens of Christchurch coming out to hear art historian John Wilson as he walked and talked among the magnificent Reconstruction panels on Worcester Boulevard.

Notes
Night and day

Night and day

Our latest show, Reconstruction: conversations on a city, never closes.

Notes
Reconstruction construction

Reconstruction construction

The exhibition opens on Worcester Boulevard on Saturday morning. So our exhibitions team, with assistance from Scenic Solutions, has been hard at work building the display stands over the past few days.

Notes
Hot off the press

Hot off the press

'Around midnight, the presses started to roll...'

Notes
Christchurch 1850

Christchurch 1850

A carefully drawn plan on a sheet of paper: it's interesting to reflect that most cities didn't exist in this form before a single street had been formed, or hardly a building raised.

Notes
Architectural renderings

Architectural renderings

It's difficult not to have one's head filled with buildings right now – and not just because we're working on the edges of the broken town.

Notes
Christchurch Cathedral in 1878...

Christchurch Cathedral in 1878...

...feels remarkably close to Christchurch Cathedral at this present moment. I have no idea of what the lesson is here, but there surely is one. Any suggestions?

Notes
Doc Ross: photographing the red zone

Doc Ross: photographing the red zone

Sydenham-based photographer Doc Ross and his camera have been investigating the Christchurch urban environment for the past 14 years.

Commentary
The Lines That Are Left

The Lines That Are Left

Of landscape itself as artefact and artifice; as the ground for the inscribing hand of culture and technology; as no clean slate.

— Joanna Paul

The residential Red Zone is mostly green. After each house is demolished, contractors sweep up what is left, cover the section with a layer of soil and plant grass seed. Almost overnight, driveway, yard, porch, garage, shed and house become a little paddock; the border of plants and trees outlining it the only remaining sign that there was once a house there.

Notes
Five years on

Five years on

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Notes
The regeneration must not be bureaucratised

The regeneration must not be bureaucratised

Aaron Kreisler is Head of the School of Fine Art at the University of Canterbury. He talked to Bulletin about challenges and opportunities for the arts in our city and what art can contribute to the future of Christchurch.

Article
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Sparks that fly upwards

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Interview
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The last five years

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Director's Foreword
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Everything is going to be alright

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Article
Regional revitalization with art

Regional revitalization with art

Rei Maeda, coordinator of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, writes on art’s contribution to the regeneration of a remote rural area of Japan.

 

Notes
What sort of city do we want our children's children to live in?

What sort of city do we want our children's children to live in?

Martin Trusttum, project manager for Ōtākaro Art by the River, and founder of temporary gallery space ArtBox, writes on the role of art in Christchurch.

Exhibition
Above Ground

Above Ground

An exhibition exploring the impact of architecture, imagination and memory.

Notes

Repair Update - Base Isolation to begin

A technology that allows a building to effectively 'float' on its foundations during an earthquake is about to be applied to the Gallery.

Article
Transformers

Transformers

Curator Ken Hall writes about his experience of working with artists Chris Heaphy and Sara Hughes, as part of a small team with other city council staff and Ngāi Tahu arts advisors, on the Transitional Cathedral Square artist project.

Article
Quiet invasion

Quiet invasion

The idea of peppering the vestigial city centre with portraits from the collection became part of the Gallery's tenth birthday POPULATE! programme, intended to remind all of us that the collection is, indeed, still here and in good shape.

Notes
Earthquake Momento

Earthquake Momento

The latest issue of Photoforum's MoMento journal (issue 14, January 2014) focuses on the work of three photographers with strong ties to Christchurch and their haunting images of this battered city post February 22, 2011.

 

Article
Street urchins, blue moons and rare visions

Street urchins, blue moons and rare visions

Even in a city where surreal scenes have become somewhat routine, the sight of the Isaac Theatre Royal's eight-tonne dome, suspended like a great alien craft, had the power to turn heads and drop jaws. Preserved inside a strange white shroud while the theatre was slowly deconstructed around it was a jewel of Christchurch's decorative arts heritage – a 105 year-old Italianate plaster ceiling featuring a circular painted reverie on the theme of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The dome, along with the rest of the theatre, is currently being restored as part of an ambitious rebuild that is expected to be completed in 2015 at a cost of over $30 million.

Artist interview
The fault is ours: Joseph Becker on Lebbeus Woods

The fault is ours: Joseph Becker on Lebbeus Woods

There was a packed auditorium at CPIT in Christchurch this August when visiting San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curator Joseph Becker delivered a lecture on architect Lebbeus Woods. And it wasn't hard to guess why. In addition to many other achievements, Woods is renowned for his highly speculative project, Inhabiting the Quake. Senior curator Justin Paton spoke to Becker about Lebbeus Woods, and what Christchurch might learn from him.

Notes
1888 earthquake

1888 earthquake

Earthquake images from 125 years ago

Notes

Repairs start on Christchurch Art Gallery

Repair work has started on Christchurch Art Gallery, with the re-levelling tender that will relieve stress in the building's foundations having been awarded.

Notes
The Army leaves

The Army leaves

With the removal of the final cordon around the red zone in the central city last weekend, I came in with my family to have a look around the newly reopened areas of the CBD. We stopped to watch the parade of soldiers who were being thanked by the Prime Minister, the Mayor of Christchurch and Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu for their work in controlling the central city red zone and with community welfare in the immediate aftermath of the February earthquake.

Article
Christchurch Art Gallery is ten: highs and lows

Christchurch Art Gallery is ten: highs and lows

In recognition of the anniversary of the move of Christchurch's public art gallery from its former existence as the Robert McDougall in the Botanic Gardens to its new more central city location (now eerily empty), I've been asked by Bulletin's editor to recall some highs and lows of the last ten years. So here goes — and stay with me during this reflection, which takes the place of my usual foreword.

Artist interview
Gregor Kregar: Reflective Lullaby

Gregor Kregar: Reflective Lullaby

Justin Paton: As everyone who has seen your works at Christchurch Airport will know, you often make big sculptures with a geometric quality. Gnomes, however large, aren't the first things viewers might expect you to be interested in. What's the appeal of these figures for you?
Gregor Kregar: I'm interested reinterpreting mundane objects, shapes, situations or materials. In my large geometric works I do this by creating complex structures out of basic shapes—triangles, squares, pentagons and hexagons. And with the gnomes I am interested in how something that is usually made out of plastic or concrete and is associated with a low, kitsch aesthetic can be transformed into an arresting monumental sculpture.

Interview
It’s our party and we’ll cry if we want to

It’s our party and we’ll cry if we want to

On 10 May 2013, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu turns ten. Which is fantastic. But it's probably fair to say that there's a bittersweet quality to the celebrations around this particular anniversary, as it also marks two years and eleven weeks of closure for the Gallery, and catches us staring down the barrel of another two years without our home.

It's frustrating. And then some.

However, we're not going to let these little, ahem, inconveniences get in the way of our party. Populate! is our birthday programme, and it's our attempt to bring some unexpected faces and figures back to the depleted central city. Bulletin spoke to the Gallery's senior curator Justin Paton about what he really wants for the tenth birthday, what he finds funny, and what he really doesn't.

Notes
A major boon to the Gallery in the direct aftermath of the earthquake

A major boon to the Gallery in the direct aftermath of the earthquake

English artist Sarah Lucas was installing her show in Two Rooms, Auckland, when the 22 February earthquake struck.

Notes
What they did with Christchurch cathedral

What they did with Christchurch cathedral

Lunchtime on a shining summer's day and you head for the ruin of Christchurch Cathedral. If you get there by twelve you can usually nab one of the bench seats along the back wall, where sun buckets down through the long-gone roof and warms the stonework behind you.

Notes
Earthquake generosity

Earthquake generosity

We recently received this generous gift - from one quakeprone country to another

Artist interview
A Dark and Empty Interior

A Dark and Empty Interior

In B.167 senior curator Justin Paton documented his walk around the perimeter of Christchurch's red zone, and we featured the empty Rolleston plinth outside Canterbury Museum at the end of Worcester Boulevard. In this edition, director Jenny Harper interviews English sculptor Antony Gormley, who successfully animated another vacant central-city plinth—the so-called Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. Gormley filled the plinth with 2,400 people, who occupied it for one hour each, night and day, for 100 days. Here, Jenny asks him about his practice, the value of the figurative tradition and whether he has any advice for Christchurch.

Article
Laying out Foundations

Laying out Foundations

Looking broadly at the topic of local architectural heritage, Reconstruction: conversations on a city had been scheduled to open at the Gallery but will now instead show on outdoor exhibition panels along Worcester Boulevard from 23 June. Supplementing works from the collection with digital images from other collections, curator Ken Hall brings together an arresting art historical tour of the city and its environs.

Article
Cities of Remembrance

Cities of Remembrance

Nothing was more fascinating than ruins to me when I was growing up in one of the newest parts of the New World—new, anyway, to extensive buildings and their various forms of lingering collapse and remnant. The native people of California had mostly built ephemeral structures that were readily and regularly replaced and left few traces. Anything old, anything that promised to reach into the past, was magical for me; ruins doubly so for the usual aura of romance and loss that, like death, is most alluring to the young who have not seen much of it yet.

Notes
New Gallery programmes consider a city in transition

New Gallery programmes consider a city in transition

The possibilities for a city in transition will be considered in Re:actions for the city – a new series of public events that we are launching.

 

Notes
The Boulevard of Broken Art

The Boulevard of Broken Art

Well before the earthquakes, Christchurch had a reputation as a tough town for public art. The city's public spaces are haunted by the ghosts of several major sculptures that never made it to completion. And several local sculptors still carry some psychological scar tissue from their forays into the public realm.

Article
Here and Gone

Here and Gone

In the last issue of Bulletin, senior curator Justin Paton wrote about the way the Christchurch earthquakes 'gazumped' the exhibitions on display at the Gallery – overshadowing them and shifting their meanings. In this issue, with the Gallery still closed to the public, he considers the place of art in the wider post-quake city – and discovers a monument in an unlikely place.

Exhibition
De-Building

De-Building

Sculptural surprises and architectural double-takes by renowned contemporary artists. De-Building is inspired by a moment usually hidden from viewers – when an exhibition ends and the 'de-build' begins. View it online