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Model Of Lost Heritage Building Comes To Quake City

An incredibly detailed model of the historic Canterbury Jockey Club Building is the latest new exhibit at Quake City, Canterbury Museum’s special exhibition about the Canterbury earthquakes.

The model, crafted over 5 weeks by local artist Mike Beer, known as Ghostcat, recreates in miniature one of the many heritage buildings Christchurch lost after the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

The Canterbury Jockey Club building on Oxford Terrace was designed by brothers Sidney and Alfred Luttrell in the Edwardian Tudor style and was completed in 1912. Between the 1920s and the 1980s the building also housed the Christchurch Stock Exchange.

In later years the building was occupied by hospitality businesses and was home to Liquidity Bar and Restaurant when the earthquakes hit. Although it remained open after the September 2010 quake, the building was badly damaged on 22 February 2011 and was demolished later that year.

The Canterbury Jockey Club building was classified as a Category II Heritage Building by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

Beer’s model was commissioned by the Museum after he showed staff a similar miniature replica of the historic photography studio in the Museum’s Christchurch Street.

Dr Jill Haley, Curator Human History, chose the Canterbury Jockey Club building for the commission partly for its simple, classic structure, and partly because as a popular hospitality venue it was a place many locals will remember.

“Before the earthquakes, central Christchurch was full of these historic two-storey brick buildings, but not many of them survived,” Dr Haley says.

“The Canterbury Jockey Club building has now been replaced by The Terrace, but it’ll live on in Mike’s fantastic model at Quake City.

Beer built the model from scratch using a range of materials including balsa wood, plaster, card and several types of polymer clay. He applied real grout between the tiny bricks of the building’s walls.

He used a photo from 1997 as the main reference because later modifications to the building obscured some of its heritage details.

Beer has built models of a number of Christchurch buildings, including Volcano Café and Lava Bar in Lyttelton, as part of his artistic practice. A number of these miniature recreations were showcased in his exhibition Shadow Town at Fiksate Gallery between 9 April and 8 May.

“The buildings often produce really strong reactions from people and prompt them to remember their own experiences of these places. I’m really thrilled to have this work at Quake City because loads of people will see it – I can’t wait to hear what their reactions are,” Beer says.

Quake City is open seven days a week from 10.00 to 5.00 pm at 299 Durham Street. Admission charges apply; accompanied children under 15 years visit free.

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