Catholic Cathedral College

While in Christchurch, I got a chance to visit the students at Catholic Cathedral College. I learned that this school can trace its roots back to the mid eighteen hundreds, that’s nearly 200 years ago! The school may have been around for a long time, but the students were young and excited to tell me all about the place that they call home.

Catholic Cathedral College
What a beautiful building! Can you imagine getting to go to school here. Photo credit: http://sporty.co.nz/cathcollege

Buildings and Art:

I asked these students where they liked to go in Christchurch and they told me about some fascinating art structures all around town. Grab a chair with me and have a seat while I tell you all about the art I got to see in Christchurch!

Christchurch chair
Oh no, I shrunk! Actually this oversized, brilliant green furniture is an outdoor art installation in the mild of Christchurch. This type of art is meant to bring a smile to the face of everyone who passes it. Photo credit: Alex Eilers

A few years ago, in 2011, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake shook Christchurch New Zealand. The earthquake left the city damaged with many buildings and homes demolished. Some buildings are just as they were the day after the earthquake took place even though 5 years have passed. So much of downtown Christchurch was destroyed; many buildings like this catholic church are only now being assessed for damage.
Church
The ruins of this church show how destructive an earthquake can be. Even though it is damaged, I still think it is really beautiful. Photo credit: Alex Eilers

Church illustration
There is a sign in front of the Church ruins with an illustration of what the church once looked like. See how the towering spires are gone now? Photo credit: Alex Eilers

In an effort to remain hopeful in the wake of so much destruction, the people of Christchurch decided to fill their city with art. There was hardly a wall, street, or corner that was not decorated with some of the neatest art I’ve ever seen.
Rebuilding
This Church had special supports added to make sure no more of the church fell until it could be rebuilt. Walls of bold modern art hide the construction debris from view. It’s neat to see old and new styles of art mixed together. Photo credit: Alex Eilers

Some of the art is joyful. Near my seat in the over-sized green arm chair was a public dance floor just right out in the open! You could go up to the dance floor, insert a coin, and jamming tunes would burst forth while you danced around in the open air. I saw plenty of people find their groove. A group called Gap Filler built the dance floor where a Laundry mat used to be. They called this dance floor the Dance-O-Mat! This group has built over 35 art installations in communities all around Christchurch. The group’s goal is to change the vacant spaces left by the Earthquake into places where people can find community and joy in their city as it recovers.
Dance-O-Mat
People insert their coins in an old washing machine, plug in their music, and get to dancing! People do dancing or all kinds like salsa, swing, Zumba, and even breakdancing! Photo credit: gapfiller.com

Some of the art is more somber. This art installation of white chairs was made to commemorate the 185 people who lost their lives during the earthquake.
185 Empty White Chairs
Notice how all the chairs are different. Do you see some unusual chairs? Photo credit: Alex Eilers

The different chairs are meant to reflect the individuality of each of the 185 people. Fresh red Carnations were attached to every chair to commemorate the 5 year anniversary of the Earthquake. The artist said he wanted the chairs to sit on a field of green grass to remind viewers that the people of Christchurch can grow and overcome their hard times. If you look is the background of the photo, you will see that the people of Christchurch are growing again. New buildings are climbing to reach the skyline once more.

In front of the monument was a church, but this church wasn’t like the one I showed you in earlier pictures. This church is called the cardboard cathedral. See if you can figure out why.

Cardboard Cathedral
Does this look like any church you have been to? Take a close look at the ceiling. Photo credit: Alex Eilers

Cardboard Construction
This lady is demonstrating how they bent the pieces of cardboard to create the giant tubes. Photo credit: Alex Eilers

The Earthquake destroyed the beautiful stone cathedral of the Anglican Diocese. A central meeting place for the community was gone and there was nowhere to worship. The people of Christchurch decided they needed a temporary place for concerts, meetings, and church services until they could rebuild their stone church. An artist named Shigeru Ban was brought in to help. This artist specializes in building temporary buildings for disaster relief. In Christchurch he built an A-frame modern cathedral out of those giant shipping containers like you see on trains and barges. Then, he took tons of cardboard and made 86 giant cardboard tubes. He coated them in flame retardants and polyurethane. That’s why they look so glossy in the picture. He lined the roof of the structure with these amazing cardboard pillars. Each tube weighed over 1000 pounds! The tubes are spaced so that plenty of natural light can come into the building. Looking up at this impressive view, I was amazed by how beautiful cardboard could become.

Has the art of Christchurch inspired you to think differently about your community? A little paint, cardboard, and effort helped to transform this city in the wake of terrible events. Check out a few more of the art pieces I enjoyed.

Passing Time
Anton Parson created this piece just days after the Earthquake. The numbers on the band feature the date from the year 1961-2011. These dates represent the number of years since the founding of the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology. Photo credit: Alex Eilers

Storage Wars
The Re-start store front. Photo credit: Alex Eilers

Hit the re-start button
A nice shot of some shops. What do you think they carry? Photo credit: Alex Eilers

Restart
Christchurch had a whole mini-mall made from shipping containers! I just found out they are going to build one of these container mini-malls in Memphis. I’m so excited! Photo credit: Alex Eilers

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