Chch Art Gallery has won city hearts
Defying devastation to symbolise city's rebirthCHRISTOPHER MOORE
OPINION: If the results of The Press survey of community attitudes is any indication, the Christchurch Art Gallery (CAG) appears to be lodged in the public's affections.
Eighty per cent of those question want priority to be given to the repair of the gallery.
It seems that the 12-year-old "warehouse in a tutu" has pirouetted its way into the community's affections.
The only question is whether this is because of the art it contains, the cultural values it enshrines or the fact that the building has remained one of the few constant landmarks in the inner city since September 2010.
Like a loyal friend, it has remained stoically in our collective sights when the city's face changes almost daily. The attitudes contained in the survey are ironic, given the gallery once polarised public opinion.
As a piece of architecture, it is a world apart from its Italian Renaissance predecessor, the Robert McDougall Gallery.
As a symbol, the CAG is a potent presence. The art it houses may have been replaced by emergency services, earthquake recovery programmes and bureaucratic clutter, but the sheer bravura of that glass skirting the frontage has defied the surrounding devastation.
If the Buchan Group's design for Christchurch's new art gallery was considered audacious when it was opened in 2003, it was a clear statement the city was shedding its Victorian Gothic skirts.
From Graham Bennett's airy sculpture in the forecourt to the strong sculptural forms of the atrium and galleries behind the glass screen, the gallery immediately became a work of art in its own right.
The survey has revealed that a significant number of individuals have no intention of abandoning a building that has emerged as symbol of, and a pointer to, a city's rebirth.
* The Press incorrectly referred to the forecourt sculpture artist as Neil Dawson. It is in fact Graham Bennett's work.
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