Monday, May 12, 2014

Four Houses, Four Families, Four Stories

I have hundreds of photographs of abandoned red zone houses in Christchurch.
I only have forty or so recorded stories from some of the earthquake-battered people who once lived in them - people who then, in the thick of thousands of after-shocks, were only too willing to talk about one of the most shattering and damaging experiences of their lives.
I often wonder now, as I walk or cycle through these sad, sad abandoned residential areas, what has become of all of the people - not only the ones I interviewed but all the others too. The thousands who have made off to other places.  I wonder what they have taken with them - what memories, what dreams and aspirations, what physical treasures that were too important to leave behind
With every passing week, more and more of these abandoned red-zoned homes are being demolished.
What were once busy suburban communities filled with spinning clothes lines, screaming kids, yelling parents, loud stereos and idling cars, have been reduced to flat, barren tracts of land scraped bare of their suburban histories. Every gone. The few saved trees and the freshly sown grass no replacement for family life.
It's a good thing that so many people have gathered these family stories.
Because before long, we will need to be reminded of them - reminded of the families who once made up the once-vibrant communities of east Christchurch; reminded of the merciless power of Nature to wreck and reshape the human spirit.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The City Revisited

I haven't spent much time in inner city Christchurch over the last six months.
I've been trying to ignore our earthquake ravaged city.
I've been trying to ignore the fact that, after three and a half years, my house is still not fixed.
I've been trying to ignore everything to do with the earthquakes - the slow progress, the sad stories, the outrage, the anger, the despair, the very futility of it all.
I've just been trying to get on with my life.
Now my house *is* about to get fixed and I'm elated.
It feels like a new beginning. It feels like I can finally leave the earthquakes behind.
But then I see this wall and it seems like an ugly metaphor for all the people still waiting, all the people whose voices still haven't been heard.
And I pick up my camera again to illustrate that, despite positive stories of new buildings, flourishing street art and quirky temporary projects, inner city Christchurch still has a VERY long way to go before it regains even a glimmer of its former charm.
See for yourself.

The demise of the Christchurch City Council chambers
Tuam Street
The end of an era
When was your last moment of wonder?
When was the last time you felt 'all right'?
Under control, buoyant, excited, inspired?
The Bridge of Remembrance
Not how most people remember it

The interior of Starbucks.
The daily newspaper open, unread
A tiny capsule of broken history
Shopfront City Mall
Skinny Jeans
The shiny and new
Reflecting the broken and barren
A Havana-esque moment
Oddly endearing

Once a hotel
Now an ugly pool
A languishing corner

Three old beauties in various stages of ruin
The Post-it notes of memory
Fading fast

Ruptured retail
Would you feel 'all right'
If you lived here
With this?


Blog Widget by LinkWithin