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Mayor to open transitional Cathedral Square works

Mayor to open transitional Cathedral Square works

Christchurch City Council welcomes the release of Cathedral Square from the rebuild cordon and is pressing ahead with transitional work in the area to encourage people and businesses back to the Central City.

Mayor Bob Parker will officially welcome the public back to Cathedral Square and launch the Council’s Transitional City improvements at midday on Saturday 6 July, followed by a programme of four hours of live music.

“Re-opening Cathedral Square to the public is a wonderful milestone and signals another significant step in the city’s recovery,” he says.

“We can now start thinking inside the square and restoring it as a focal point for activity.”

Eye-catching artworks by Chris Heaphy and Sara Hughes take centre stage and will be placed on hoardings on fences located in the Square. The colourful works reflect Ngāi Tahu’s historical connection to the area.

Mayor Parker says the Council is aware of how much Cathedral Square means to the people of Christchurch.

“It is important we set the right tone in creating a welcoming area that represents the history of the Square and that is sympathetic to the scale of the disaster and the rebuild job ahead.

“There is still a large amount of work to be done in and around the Square but it is important that the community is able to reconnect with the city centre. The creativity of the artworks, plantings and seating will produce a vibrant area for all to enjoy, a fitting way to welcome people back to the heart of our city,” he says.

Key aspects of the Transitional Cathedral Square project:

• Colourful artworks on large panels on fences that explore Ngāi Tahu’s connection with the area. The contributing artists are Sara Hughes and Chris Heaphy.

• Interpretation panels in various locations containing 12 separate topics representing the life of the Square over time.

• Planter boxes and new seating which can be arranged to suit different events or occasions

• A stage area for public performance or theatre and gatherings

• A whare art installation by Chris Heaphy that will be covered with living plants

The artists have produced impressive results that are complementary and ingenious, says Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu Curator Ken Hall.

“The artworks provide a visual antidote to everything we’ve had to look at over the past two years.”

Situated in font of the Cathedral, Heaphy’s work features signs, symbols and geometric architectural elements on a black background providing a backdrop for a whare complete with living plants.

Hughes’ contribution of a towering flag wall and fences filled with plastic “put-in cups’’ recall embroidery designs, tukutuku panels and slate patterns on the Cathedral roof.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Tā Mark Solomon says the ChristChurch Cathedral and Cathedral Square are iconic symbols of Ōtautahi / Christchurch and important reminders of the city’s Church of England roots. For Ngāi Tahu the area also serves as a reminder that the first Anglican Church in greater Christchurch was a Ngāi Tahu whare karakia (church) in Puāri at Koukourārata/Port Levy.

“Ngāi Tahu would like to congratulate both Sara Hughes and Chris Heaphy (Ngāi Tahu) for incorporating both church and Māori symbols into their contemporary art,” says Tā Mark.

Heaphy has created a ‘’contemporary whare’’ that forms a visual link to the physical, cultural and spiritual life of Ngāi Tahu and to the Anglican Church. Through his plant-covered whare, we are also reminded of the early kāinga nohoanga, Puāri, a major mahinga kai (customary food gathering place), which occupied the nearby banks of the Ōtākaro (Avon) River. His vibrant hoardings draw inspiration from the Cathedral’s famous Rose Window and follow his practice of addressing questions about culture and identity.

Sarah Hughes has created colourful hoardings formed by inserting thousands of painted cups into the wire mesh of security fencing. This pixellated effect forms floral imagery that is inspired by the Johnstone Collection of the University of Canterbury.

“We are confident these thought-provoking works will help people reconnect with Cathedral Square as it moves into the future,” says Tā Mark.

On Thursday (27 June) the cost-sharing arrangement between the Council and the Crown revealed a shared responsibility for enhancement of Cathedral Square. However, that is for the long term and the Council’s transitional works are intended to ensure the area is appealing and provides an environment to congregate and for a range of activities.

An immediate and ongoing priority for the Council is ensuring Cathedral Square is safe and to complete work on the transitional project, says Urban Design and Regeneration Unit Manager Carolyn Ingles. This may mean access to some areas remains restricted during construction of the key features. Time constraints also mean that not all of the artworks will be installed for the opening so more work will be required in coming weeks to complete the project.

The artworks have been designed so they can be reconfigured within the Square through its transitional phase and while more permanent plans are established.

“There will be ongoing demolition and construction work in Cathedral Square. It is important that as well as being visually appealing and functional, we provide a safe environment, and that meant being able to adjust the layout of the artworks to suit any development work,” says Carolyn Ingles.

The Transitional Cathedral Square project was developed in collaboration with Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu and Ngāi Tahu. The Council has worked in partnership with a number of stakeholders including adjoining property owners, CERA, CCDU, Ngāi Tahu, Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism and New Zealand Police to attract people back as visitors and tenants and to stimulate development to rejuvenate the Square.

Event details:
Mayor Bob Parker launches the transitional Cathedral Square improvements
Saturday 6 July, at midday, then music to 4pm.
Performers: Drop Nation, The Response, Natalie Slade & The Real, The Make Believe.

See an artist’s impression of the Cathedral Square installation, and watch video of Chris Heaphy and Sarah Hughes talking about the project at www.futurechristchurch.co.nz

Please see separate attachment for Cathedral Square background information. Profiles of artists Chris Heaphy and Sara Hughes are also attached.

- ends -

Thursday July 4 2013

Cathedral Square backgrounder

Cathedral Square…a new phase in a vibrant history

Cathedral Square has long been a community focal point in Christchurch city, a place where people come together, in good times and bad, and a backdrop for scores of significant historical events.

As the Garden City reclaims Cathedral Square as the cultural heart of the city, here’s a brief look back at how people have made use of this iconic public space over the years.

June 2013
Cathedral Square re-opens to the public for the first time since the day of the February 22 earthquake in 2011. The Square comes to life again as a space for people to come to relax and enjoy. The Christchurch City Council’s Transitional Square project sees vibrant new art installations, and the space re-established as a setting for art and cultural performances.

February 22, 2011
A magnitude 6.3 earthquake strikes the Canterbury region. In the aftermath of the devastating quake, news footage is screened around the globe of crowds of tourists and office workers gathered in The Square, against a background of badly damaged buildings including the Christchurch Cathedral, and the toppled statue of city founder John Robert Godley. The CBD is evacuated soon afterwards, and The Square becomes off limits to the public when it falls within The Central City Red Zone, established by The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

Festivals, cultural and arts events and performances are held in the Square, including the annual World Buskers Festival, and weekly arts and crafts markets.

Crowds descend on The Square to protest against the Springbok rugby tour.

The Square is redeveloped to offer large areas for pedestrians, with the south-west quadrant closed to traffic.

The Wizard of New Zealand (Ian Brakenbury Channell) becomes the most-well known of many colourful characters to entertain and educate in this bustling public space over subsequent decades.

April 1971
More than 6000 protestors march into The Square against New Zealand’s involvement in The Vietnam War.

May 1945
Crowds gather in Cathedral Square to celebrate VE Day – the end of World War Two – the largest crowds here since 1918 and the end of World War One.

April 25 1938
The first Anzac Day Service is held at the Citizens’ War Memorial in Cathedral Square. The Square would continue to host an annual Anzac Day dawn service every year until 2011, when the Christchurch Earthquake closed the space to the public.

November 1918
A Patriotic Bazaar stands in The Square, becoming a Government Standard Influenza Medicine Depot when the deadly Spanish Influenza Pandemic swept the globe. Patient “medicine” include whisky, brandy and stout.
The Square hosts a procession and rally to mark Armistice Day, and the end of WWI, on November 12.

Everybody’s Theatre opens, the first of six theatres to open over the next 15 years around the edge of Cathedral Square. With combined seating for thousands of people, for the next few decades, The Square became a buzzing arts and culture Mecca crowded with hoards of cinema goers. Theatre and film played a major role in the life of The Square until the closing of the last of the cinemas in the 1990s.

The Square’s long media heritage begins with the opening of The Lyttelton Times Building, printing the city’s major daily newspaper of the time. The media heritage in The Square continued with the opening of The Press Building in 1909, which housed staff for the daily newspaper until the building was damaged in the 2011 earthquake and deconstructed.

Activity in Cathedral Square grows as the heart of the city moves there from Market Square (Victoria Square). Country fairs, cattle and sheep markets were held, and entertainment becomes a key activity, with buskers, side shows and soap box orators common sights.

The Bank of New Zealand Building opened in 1866, and the city’s central Post Office in 1879 shows The Square’s importance as a business services hub.

Steam trains begin operating in Christchurch in 1880, leaving from The Square.

The Canterbury Association sets aside the area of The Square for the planned Christ Church Cathedral and a school.


Thursday July 4 2013

Artists inspired by iconic Christchurch space

When two renowned New Zealand artists were approached to help transform Christchurch’s iconic Cathedral Square, they knew it was going to be an exciting thing to be part of.

Artists Chris Heaphy and Sara Hughes were invited to create artworks as part of Christchurch City Council’s Transitional Cathedral Square project. The project, in collaboration with Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu and Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu, aims to reactivate the Square as a welcoming space, more than two years after it was closed off to the public following the February 2011 earthquake. The art works will surround a performance area, seating and extensive plantings. The installations will be moved and reconfigured as building progress and access needs in the area change.

Heaphy and Hughes were charged with producing engaging art that respected the past of the high-profile area, including Ngāi Tahu connections, while also responding to its present state and future aspirations. Recognising the Square as a transitional space, they were given the opportunity to create work that would reflect this.

The pair responded to the brief with bold, vibrant optimism-inducing art installations that will activate and frame the Transitional Square area.

Heaphy says he has enjoyed creating works for a city he feels a close connection with.

“Christchurch is a special place for me, having studied at Canterbury University and living here for nearly a decade. I started my career as an exhibiting artist with the Jonathan Smart Gallery, and I still maintain a these strong connections to Christchurch and Te Waka A Maui The South Island.

“The city and its people have gone through so much in the last few years and I hope the work expresses this, and also an awareness of the many changes and restarts that have occurred since humans have occupied this area,” Heaphy says, “I developed my ideas through the stories that surround Christchurch and Cathedral Square, and through the many and varied histories that exist. Those histories are interwoven into the work, along with new narratives unfolding in front of us now.”

Heaphy’s work conveys strength through vivid ordered pattern and dazzling colour. A bold, stretching wall of signs, symbols and geometric architectural elements has been digitally printed onto hoarding panels. He has also created a whare of scaffolding, plastic bread baskets and living plants.

Hughes also acknowledges the rich heritage of the area, with her art inspired by historical embroidery, tukutuku panels and roof tiles of The Christ Church Cathedral. Working with these starting points, her plan takes new directions, activating the space with a towering flag wall and hurricane fences transformed into vibrant geometric designs.

Hughes says she was very affected by the greyness and emptiness of Cathedral Square.

“I wanted to bring colour and energy into the square as a way to welcome people back. I am particularly interested in colour for its emotional and psychological effects on people. Discovering the flag poles that were already in the location sparked an idea of a giant flag wall of vibrant colour that conveyed a spectrum of meaning; encompassing the political and the celebratory.

“I have a strong interest in collections and histories of an area – when I was asked to work on this project I felt drawn towards the Johnstone collection of art and design, housed at the University of Canterbury. This was a starting point for developing my designs for the ‘put in cup’ hurricane fence designs. I have previously created two large installations for the Christchurch Art Gallery and this new project has allowed me to further connect with the city.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Tā Mark Solomon says, “We are confident these thought-provoking works will help people reconnect with Cathedral Square as it moves into the future”.

The ChristChurch Cathedral and Cathedral Square are iconic symbols of Ōtautahi / Christchurch and important reminders of the city’s Church of England roots. For Ngāi Tahu the area also serves as a reminder that the first Anglican Church in greater Christchurch was a Ngāi Tahu whare karakia (church) in Puāri at Koukourārata / Port Levy.

“Ngāi Tahu would like to congratulate both Sara Hughes and Chris Heaphy (Ngāi Tahu) for incorporating both church and Māori symbols into their contemporary art,” says Tā Mark.

Christchurch Art Gallery curator Ken Hall sees Heaphy and Hughes’ works as an antidote to a lot of what Christchurch has been through.

“They are amazingly powerful and optimistic, suggesting a new start, visual power packs that will bring this space back to life. Both artists have put so much vitality and care into their works, which I think shows their being very nicely attuned to what we’re ready for in Christchurch right now. It’s art that lifts the spirit. I think it will offer a boost to all of us.”

Mayor Bob Parker says it will be great to see the long-standing project came to fruition, and see the Square reinvigorated as the cultural heart of the city.

“The Square holds a very special place in the heart of anyone who has lived in, or visited, Christchurch. This spectacular art work is part of an exciting new phase for this space that is so synonymous with this city, recognising the importance of history, while looking forward with hope and optimism. It will be wonderful to see The Square reclaimed as a place for people.”

Artists Fact File:

Chris Heaphy
Born: 1965, of Ngāi Tahu descent
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts (University of Canterbury), Masters in Fine Arts (RMIT University, Melbourne)
Recognition: Awarded the Te Waka Toi Grant in 1993, a Creative New Zealand Grant in 1999, and the Olivia Spencer-Bower Fellowship in 1995. Residencies include a Research Grant Residency at RMIT University in Melbourne in 1998, and the Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin Residency in Champagne, France in 2000/01.

Sara Hughes
Born: 1971
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts (Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland), Masters in Fine Arts with first class honours (Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland)
Recognition: Winner of The Ripe: Art and Australia/ANZ Private Bank Contemporary Art Award in 2008 (first New Zealander to win the award), and in 2005 both the Wallace Art Award and The Norsewear Art Award.
Residencies include The Frances Hodgkins Fellowship in 2003, The Creative New Zealand Visual Arts Residency in Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in 2008/09, and The International Studio and Curatorial Programme in New York in 2007.


Watch video of the artists explaining their work at www.futurechristchurch.co.nz

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