Earlier this month (7th November, 2013) was the first time I have had the opportunity to walk through the Central City of Christchurch since before the earthquakes began, more than 3 years ago. Half the time I kept becoming mystified as to where I was; you don't realise how much you take buildings as land marks for granted until most of them are no longer there and there were surely more gaps now than there were buildings. But people have been filling some of those gaps with art and gardens and we have beauty amongst desolation.
A garden featuring NZ flax (botanical name Phornium) is on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo Streets, Central City. Note the cranes and the scaffolded building in background. The building is the Theatre Royal which has received tremendous support from Hobbit star, Sir Ian McKellan; British actor, Miriam Margolies; New Zealand group, Flight of the Conchords; and actor and writer Richard O'Brien. This support has now enabled restoration work to begin.
This garden whare (whare is house in te reo Māori) is sited in front of the STILLbroken Anglican Christchurch Cathedral in the Square. Personally I'd keep this wee whare and knock down that pakaru cathedral, a colonial copy of English Gothic Revivalist tradition (which is in itself a copy from an earlier time - I mean, how totally FAKE can you get - but there is no accounting for taste and folk I suppose.
Close up of the Garden Whare roof. This picture has become my current desktop picture.
A community garden built from pallets and other recycled and found objects where once there would have been large buildings. This garden can be found along High Street, between Manchester and Madras Streets, and you can see Manchester Street in the background.
More than three years later and we still have broken buildings (this one in High Street) partly because there are just so many to demolish and partly because of the insurance industry swinging the lead. If this one hangs around much longer it will become a garden itself. Nature is doing good work here.
A garden streetscape also created from recycled and found objects. Flowering cabbage tree (cordyline australis or Ti Kouka in te reo Māori) and more broken buildings in background and I think I see a sliver of a view of the Controversial Anglican Cardboard Cathedral built to sustain parishoners and tourists alike, until the rows over the old one are finally resolved and a new "proper" Anglican Cathedral is built. Or the old one is restored. Or a replica of that old colonial Gothic Revival is built. Or something.
Not really a garden. This is an installation by artist Peter Majendie called Reflections of Lost Lives, Livelihoods and Living in the Neighbourhood. The 185 individual white chairs commemorate the 185 lives lost on the 22nd of February, 2011. Originally this installation first placed in February 2012 was planned to stand for only a week but people want it to remain. It is a fitting memorial I think.