Christchurch Street Art – A photo journey

Sculpture called Woods from the Trees in Christchurch New Zealand

Christchurch is at once a city of ruins and rebirth.

The 2011 Christchurch Earthquake was shallow, and focused just miles from the centre of the city already weakened by a quake the previous year. It caused widespread damage across Christchurch, and stole the lives of 185 people.

A stroll around the city will reveal buildings still in their damaged states, a complex program of public works still underway to restore them. Fencing and scaffolding abound, and heated debates continue regarding the repairs. The Christchurch Cathedral, which suffered significant damage to the building, is protected by fences standing as a monument to the disaster, and the subject of debate whether to repair the building, or leave it as such.

Christchurch Cathedral still damaged by the 2011 Earthquake

 

Surprisingly, Christchurch has been named as one of the street art capitals in the world by Lonely Planet (click here for Australia), alongside cities including New York, Barcelona and Berlin. Something happened after the quake. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes Christchurch embraced beauty and creativity and began to purposefully decorate the city. Christchurch holds plenty of hidden treasures for lovers of street art with murals and sculptures at every turn. I quickly fell in love with the quirky artworks around the city and set out to find them on my explorations, but I barely scratched the surface!

It begins even as you leave the airport.

Public piano at Christchurch airport, New Zealand

 

Sculpture at Christchurch airport, New Zealand

 

While art abounds throughout the city of Christchurch, these are the ones you can expect to find within walking distance of the main hub of the city.

 

Where to stay in Christchurch

For the budget conscious looking for somewhere quirky and unique, you can’t go past the Jailhouse Accommodation.

Built in a restored women’s prison, the rooms are inexpensive and basic but comfortable. Display rooms have been left to show how the prison once was. It might get a little claustrophobic for a longer stay, but I had a pleasant stay in both a double and a single room. It is located a pleasant 10-15 minute stroll out of the main part of town.

Double room in Jailhouse Accommodation Christchurch
A double room at the Jailhouse

While you can easily walk from the Jailhouse to any of these artworks, you can also take the Christchurch Hop-On Hop-Off tour on a vintage tram to reduce the walking.

Vintage hop on hop off tram in Christchurch New Zealand

 

A walking exploration of Christchurch

I embarked upon my explorations of Christchurch on the same side of the river as the Jailhouse, following the path of the Avon River into town. Those so inclined can even take a guided Edwardian punt on the Avon.

The Avon River through Christchurch on New Zealands South Island

You can even find sculptures along the bank of the river.

Boat sculpture beside the Avon River, Christchurch on New Zealands South Island

While it may not be art, this route will take you past the memorial to the victims of the Christchurch Earthquake and it is worth a moment to stop by. Rocks painted by children for their lost parent broke my heart.

Memorial to the victims of the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake. Inscription reads: "A violent and destructive earthquake shook greater Christchurch on 22 February 2011. The lives of 185 people were lost and many were seriously injured. This was one of thousands of earthquakes experienced in the region, starting on 4 September 2010. Our communities were forever changed. We remember: Those who died, those who were hurt, and those who experienced loss. We offer our thanks: To those who came for us, to those who risked their lives for ours, and to those who supported us. Together we are stronger."

The inscription reads;

“A violent and destructive earthquake shook greater Christchurch on 22 February 2011. The lives of 185 people were lost and many were seriously injured. This was one of thousands of earthquakes experienced in the region, starting on 4 September 2010. Our communities were forever changed.

We remember: Those who died, those who were hurt, and those who experienced loss. We offer our thanks: To those who came for us, to those who risked their lives for ours, and to those who supported us. Together we are stronger.”

 

Christchurch Street Art; Murals

 

The street art in Christchurch consists of both murals and sculptures, many of which carry messages about the earthquake or a vision for a future Christchurch. On my first exploration walk I stuck to the same side of the river as the Jailhouse.

A shout out to Watch This Space and Find Christchurch for helping me identify the works I didn’t capture the name of at the time.

 

These giant Aerosol cans are part of a group of eight for street artists to

These aerosol cans were left over from the Spectrum Street art festival, and became a permanent fixture to encourage art within the city. They form part of a collection of eight, the other five create an evolving art space for street artists to practice.

Artists: The three semi-permanent cans were painted by established street artists Jacob Yikes, Ikarus and Wongi Wilson.

Location: Corner of Manchester and Lichfield streets

 

Artwork Name: Portrait of a Woman

Artist: Australian street artist Rone

About: The painting is of young model Teresa Oman with the Silver Fern associated with New Zealand

Location: Worcester Street

 

Mural called Kristen by Australian Street Artist Askew One

Artwork Name: Kristen

Artist: Australian artist Askew One, who now resides in New Zealand

Location: Gloucester Street

 

Mural Rise from the Rubble by artist Brandon Warrell

Artwork name: Rise from the Rubble

Artist: Brandon Warrell

About: Chosen by the public as the winning design to be painted on the wall of the Ibis hotel, Rise from the Rubble features a kowhai tree and silver eye. The artist hoped to bring inspiration to the people of Christchurch by acknowledging the loss but looking to the future as the city rebuilds.

Location: Cathedral Square

 

Mural by Jacob Yikes on a car park building at Cathedral Square Christchurch

Artist: Jacob Yikes

Location: Worcester Boulevard/Cathedral Square

 

Mural by artist Berst in Christchurch

Artist: Berst

Location: Gloucester Street

 

Mural of Whero O Te Rangi Bailey by Kevin Ledo in Christchurch

Artist: Kevin Ledo

About: This mural is of Whero O Te Rangi Bailey, a Maori elder. Ledo is known for his mural portraits, this was painted from a photograph by Stuart Robertson.

Location: On the side of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, corner of Colombo and Armagh Streets

 

The grand buildings of the Christ’s college, Arts Centre and Canterbury Museum are home to a number of artworks.

Mural on the wall of the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch by artist ROA

Artist: Belgian artist ROA

About: Monochrome works are the trademark of ROA, also known for painting large animals. This work depicts a Kiwi and Moa.

Location: Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Avenue

 

Artwork commissioned by Rollickin Gelato by Wongi Wilson, Christchurch

Artist: Wongi Wilson

About: This artwork was commissioned by Rollickin Gelato for their new shop in Cashel Mall

Location: Cashel Street

 

Mural by Ruby Jones in Christchurch

Artist: Ruby Jones

Surprisingly, although Ruby Jones seems to have a number of artworks in Christchurch, I wasn’t able to locate any information about this one. Given its in my camera roll next to the gelato work, and the wall is the same colour, I think its pretty fair to say this one can be found in the same location.

 

Christchurch Street Art; Sculptures

 

Sculpture called Woods from the Trees in Christchurch New Zealand

Artwork Name: Woods from the Trees

Artist: Regan Gentry

About: This eight metre high sculpture is of a stand of native rimu trees, using wood felled for a family home which was salvaged after the earthquake and used to create this urban forest. It speaks of a future where nature is a part of the city of Christchurch.

Location: Corner of High and Tuam streets

 

Sculpture named Chalice in Cathedral Square Christchurch

Artwork Name: Chalice

Artist: Neil Dawson

Location: Cathedral Square

 

Conduct Cumulus sculpture on the grounds of Arts Centre Christchurch

Artwork Name: Conduct Cumulus

Artist: Seung Yul Oh

About: This work uses the concept of bubbles to symbolise the citizens working individually and collectively to rebuild Christchurch.

Location: The quadrangle of the Arts Centre, Worcester Boulevard

 

Stay (part 2) sculpture by Sir Antony Gormley at Arts Centre Christchurch

Artwork Name: Stay (part 2)

Artist: Sir Antony Gormley

About: This is the twin to another statue which is in the Avon River. They are made of cast iron and intended to represent the two sides of Christchurch post Earthquake.

Location: Arts Centre, Worcester Boulevard

 

Ka mua Ka Muri, sculture by Kazu Nakagawa in Christchurch

Artwork Name: Ka mua Ka muri

Artist: Kazu Nakagawa

About: The sculpture is a phonetic render of a well known Maori proverb that talks of walking backwards into the future. It was gifted to Christchurch by the artist in 2019, after the terrorist attack on a mosque.

Location: Arts Centre, Worcester Boulevard

 

Stay (part 1) by Sir Antony Gormley, in the Avon River in Christchurch

Artwork Name: Stay (part 1)

Artist: Sir Antony Gormley

Location: Avon River, near the Gloucester Street Bridge

 

Naturally, as you would expect there are a few pieces on display around the Christchurch Art Gallery too.

Reasons for Voyaging, Sculpture by Graham Bennett outside the Christchurch Art Gallery

Artwork Name: Reasons for Voyaging

Artist: Graham Bennett

Location: In front of the Christchurch Art Gallery, Montreal Street

 

Everythings going to be alright, lights on the side of the Christchurch Art Gallery

Artwork name: EIGTBA

Artist: Martin Creed

Location: Side of the Christchurch Art Gallery, Worcester Boulevard near the corner of Montreal Street

 

Sculpture Vaka A Hina by Semisi Fetokai Potauaine, in Christchurch

Artwork Name: Vaka A Hina

Artist: Semisi Fetokai Potauaine

About: This 16 metre tall steel sculpture is visible from many blocks away. It is inspired by a tale from Tongan folklore of the goddess Hina and her journey to the moon and represents unity and movement.

Location: Rauora Park, which is between Armagh and Lichfield Streets

 

sculpture by Neil Dawson attempts to capture the damaged Cathedral spire from memory

Artwork Name: Spires

Artist: Neil Dawson

About: The aluminium sculpture is based on the geometry of the damaged spire of the Christchurch Cathedral

Location: Latimer Square

 

185 Chairs Earthquake Memorial Christchurch

Name: 185 Chairs Earthquake Memorial

Artist: Peter Majendie

About: This poignant installation was originally intended to be temporary, but 185 Chairs has become a major tourist attraction in Christchurch. Erected on the first anniversary of the earthquake, the 185 unique chairs represent the 185 different individuals killed in the 2011 earthquake.

Location: It is currently on a vacant lot at St Pauls Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church, but will need to move to another site.

 

While you are at the 185 Chairs memorial, don’t miss the opportunity to stop by the Transitional Church which is nearby. While it may not be art as such, it is a remarkable structure largely made of cardboard and has served in place of the damaged cathedral since the earthquake.

Exterior of the Transitional Church in Christchurch

Interior cardboard tubing in the roof of the Transitional Church in Christchurch

 

You should also wander by the Bridge of Remembrance and check out the beautiful tilework in front of it.

Bridge of Remembrance in Christchurch

 

My Photography Equipment

If you are interested in what photography equipment I use and recommend, check out some of the results in my Photography Equipment List.

 

I hope you enjoyed this small glimpse into the streets of Christchurch and their wonders!

Don’t forget to share!

Rising from the devastation of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the city has filled itself with art and beauty. Check out some of the murals and sculptures on offer in Christchurch city.

Rising from the devastation of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the city has filled itself with art and beauty. Check out some of the murals and sculptures on offer in Christchurch city.

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