I had a great weekend down in Christchurch for a friends 60th birthday. I caught up with friends and family, thrillingly experienced a small aftershock (a Wellingtonian is saying this...nuts!) and went to see the Ron Mueck Exhibition.This is a pic of me looking at the giant newborn which gives you a sense of scale. If you haven’t been to see these extraordinary works, then book a cheap airfare and go. Do not miss it... and don’t be put off by that quake business.
Yes, there are houses with cracks and held together with ropes but there are houses totally unaffected. There are empty spaces where buildings have gone and then standing surprises like Shands Emporium (built 1866) where my favourite vintage clothing shop, Tête à Tête was mercifully undisturbed and doing a brisk, friendly and super helpful trade. But apart from some busy cafes and the selling of vintage corsets, things were pretty quiet retail-wise in the city centre. The locals seem pretty fed up with the state of things; the limbo that remains after a civil disaster in the midst of a recession. And it doesn’t help Christchurch if you stay away.
Whilst there, I went to a mall to buy a birthday card and it was packed to the gunnels with tinkly Christmas music and the overpowering smell of muggy people and stale food halls. I couldn’t wait to get out of it. This isn’t the Christchurch that I knew and loved in the 80’s and 90’s when we lived there. If you shut your eyes and opened them again you could be in St Lukes, Westfield or any of the cloned soul-less malls that dominate retail. Thank God Wellington is so geographically compromised that we adhere happily to a few well trod mainstreets in the heart of the city, leaving the malls to far flung satellite cities. It’s what keeps a city alive and kicking.
So, go to Christchurch but go to the heart of it. Go the art galleries, the markets, the art centre and the old eclectic parts that still remain and defied the earthquake. Go and spend your Christmas budget there on presents, eat in the cafes, enjoy the coffee, go and see the deliciously decadent Cabaret at the Court Theatre. That’s the way you can help, far more so than ticking a ‘like’ box on facebook. And go to the launch of a new book by Gavin Bishop and Diana Noonan (two of my oldest and favourite colleagues with my most supportive publisher) of Quaky Cat- authors doing their bit to help in the very best way possible.
Thats all for this week, cheers Fifi :)