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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Jelley

To the land of the left hand sun

(Photograph - Reuben Jelley)

A couple of weeks ago I was in Christchurch, New Zealand which has been slowly reconstructing itself after a major earthquake five years ago. The desolation of this event has left some deep scars on the city but projects like Gap Filler and Greening the Rubble have galvanised the creative community to reclaim the city through a range of curious initiatives.

The dance-o-matic, mini golf and even a little library have sprung up on central prime real-estate where buildings once stood. They hunker beneath massive experimental murals painted on walls which were once internal and cheekily ask both local and visitor to play in a city which has suffered so much. It is a place where you feel guerrilla art is extruding itself from every angle, and blossoming where bureaucracy commonly suppresses.

So I was moved to write this below, which in my mind captures the mood and personality, or at least what I saw as a visitor. But then just a few days later and a week before the five year anniversary there was another large quake. There were no fatalities but I can't help but wonder how the residents cope with the uncertainty of when the next quake with shake.

Christchurch poem

Illustrated city full of shakes

Rubble relaxes over recent mistakes

Phoenix esq and heavy with art

A new generation dressing up sharp

Creative expressions over vacant plots

Filling gaps with cultural crops

Astro turf sofa

Dance 'O' Matic

Mini golf pop up

And wind blown plastic

Trailing from balconies

And building site cages

Segmenting reconstruction in proportioned phases

Fresh heads gather

New baggage reclaim

Growth of ideas

Retreating the frame

City wide sculpture

Open gallery spaces

Smoothing the scars

Reconstructing the faces

Beside tags marking buildings

Cleared and dated

Rogue architects barred de-robed and implicated

Album art blossoms beneath hungry cranes

Knitting girders over truncated drains

Shanty containers a new city core

Personal intimate accessible and raw

Iron now rises banded and braced

Designed to instil confidence in this place

Trams scuttle neat

Reinventing the mystery

Varnished veneer across facades of history

Awaiting the inevitable

As history folds

Brand new archeology

Modern legends in the moulds

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