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Every Picture Tells a Story

"the earthquake series"

Why do I put off writing a blog entry even more than I used to delay writing thank you letters when I was a kid? That's a rhetorical question by the way but all psychological offers of helps accepted. The irony is I actually like writing!

So I was compelled to break my silence after a recent incident of near fisticuffs (with the representatve of the Arts Society) after I wished to put a written page with this gallery exhibit. Evidently it wasn't the done thing. When I go to a gallery, I always read the artists' blurb because I'm interested in who they are and/or what their art means - and also a generally nosey person.

Here's the blurb. It's the story behind why these things belong together and how I lost a few more marbles on life's road...

“We all have a story to tell, and I believe the longer we live the more our individual faces can reflect the lives we have led. Buildings not only share this characteristic, but often bear witness to a longer life span and history than humans are allowed. These paintings and wearable art are all born from the Christchurch Earthquakes of 2010/2011 and their aftermath. Their story is the earthquake story, and ultimately a positive one.

Having lived in my adopted city of Christchurch since 1999, I originally underestimated the lasting effect for me of being in Christchurch at that time. Buoyed along by the camaraderie of disaster and a collective spirit of “can do” attitude, it truly brought out the best in people.

But as time wore on, I increasingly struggled with my daily commute into the reopened city centre and its bleak landscape. Sanity came to me through my obsession with photographing the broken buildings and looking behind the facades. Paintings can add a dose of imagination to what is laid bare and I found the beauty in the broken places.

The “Remember” painting was inspired by a cityscape seen on an overseas trip in that time. Half a world away, a dismantled building had been reduced to concrete pillars in what amounted to an all too familiar scene. However, what could have been a sad demolition site was made beautiful by artwork. It was a memorial to WWII, but the scene also spoke to the universality of experience and it could equally have been about innumerable world events of human made or natural disasters.

Sitting in the middle of 3 paintings, “Remember” ties together the revealed interior of the much loved Catholic Cathedral and the shiny new symbols of regeneration on Montreal Street. The wooden villas survived the quakes but were given a new backdrop with the impressive glass and copper structure of the Wynn Williams building representing restored faith and future focus.

I had started a piece for WOW before any of this began but its completion was hampered by various earthquakes! Coincidentally I was playing with the concept of looking beneath the façade of conventional catwalk beauty to show the structure beneath which we all share. And so we are back to the beginning. We build in our own image but none of us are totally invincible.”

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