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A Graveyard For Vanished Buildings

26 October 2005

A Graveyard For Vanished Buildings

A temporary graveyard will soon appear in the grounds of Old St Paul's, the historic wooden church in central Wellington. From 10th - 21st November, 50 marble blocks, each one bearing the name of a vanished Wellington building, will be on show outside the church.

The exhibition 50 Stones by Wellington sculptor Nick Dryden both celebrates and commemorates the changing face of Wellington. It also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Historic Places Trust, founded in 1955 after a successful campaign to save Old St Paul's.

Nick conceived the exhibition late last year, when he learned of the demolition of 85-year old Maritime House, made from the same Takaka marble as Parliament Buildings. He salvaged three skip-loads of the largest pieces. "I decided to use them to commemorate these beautiful old craft buildings which were being bowled in a flicker."

Nick and his wife, heritage advisor Barbara Fill, researched and selected a further 49 of Wellington's now-vanished historic buildings, including the Chief Post Office, Wellington Hospital, the Majestic Theatre, several pubs and banks, the Tonks Ave precinct and two large private houses in Mt Cook. Each block was etched with the name of one of these buildings, the dates of its construction and demolition, and the name of the architect or builder. "The stones are a memorial," says Nick, "for the fifty wonderful buildings we've lost, and also all those lost skills, crafts and materials, which we'll probably never see again."

The exhibition includes a short film showing many of these buildings before and after demolition, which will screen continuously inside Old St Paul’s.

Nick found working with our only local marble was a powerful experience. "Marble is a very special material. It starts as the skeletons of prehistoric creatures laid down on the ocean floor, which becomes limestone and is eventually converted to marble by geological pressures. The end product is the crystallised bones of our pre-history."

Nick Dryden has worked as a sculptor for 12 years, including nine months at the Dellatolas Marble Sculpture Studio in Tinos, Greece. His commissioned works are held in private and public collections in New Zealand and overseas.

ENDS


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