Festa artworks map lost Christchurch

Danielle Rose Mileo, an artist and aspiring architect from Melbourne, with her   Lost Christchurch exhibition. It is art ...
WILL HARVIE/FAIRFAX NZ

Danielle Rose Mileo, an artist and aspiring architect from Melbourne, with her Lost Christchurch exhibition. It is art that documents lost heritage.

A fresh analysis of lost Christchurch heritage architecture made its points in beautiful ways.

The exhibition called Lost Christchurch was a Festival of Transitional Architecture (Festa) programme that focused on the 70 historic buildings within the Four Avenues that were demolished despite being listed by Heritage New Zealand. 

The exhibition was created by Danielle Rose Mileo, an artist and master's student in architecture at the Melbourne School of Design.

The most striking and political work was called There are Holes in the Documentation. Mileo started with the Blue Print, the 2012 document that masterplanned rebuilt central Christchurch. 

She mapped the 70 lost buildings on the Blue Print's cover and opening statement by earthquake recovery minister Gerry Brownlee. These buildings were then cut out of the cover and statement and the paper replaced by gold leaf. 

Mileo wanted to show there were heritage holes in the central document of the rebuild.  

Look closely. Mileo's work, "There are holes in the documentation", maps lost heritage architecture across the cover of ...
SUPPLIED/DANIELLE MILEO

Look closely. Mileo's work, "There are holes in the documentation", maps lost heritage architecture across the cover of the Blue Print.

"There was potential for these buildings to be looked at and reused but his document didn't acknowledge that or save them," she said. "They should have been considered [for repairs]."

"There is a very small part of the document that talks about heritage, but it's very vague and doesn't say we need to save specific buildings."

In her explanation of the artwork, Mileo wrote: "Whilst the document states that it 'provides for heritage values by encouraging the retention of heritage buildings in the central city,' the unnecessary demolition of heritage architecture has been allowed to occur at an unprecedented rate".

A companion piece in Mileo's "There are holes in the documentation" maps lost heritage across the Blue Print's opening ...
SUPPLIED/DANIELLE MILEO

A companion piece in Mileo's "There are holes in the documentation" maps lost heritage across the Blue Print's opening statement by Gerry Brownlee.

"It's a little bit of a critique of the people involved," she said. 

It was also about the "erosion of text or erosion of voice of someone [Brownlee], who had quite a strong voice at the time".

The gold leaf referenced kintsugi, a Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics by glueing them back together with gold, making the repaired item more valuable than it was previously. 

Other works in Mileo's exhibition used gold to suggest that surviving heritage architecture, such as the Anglican cathedral, must be saved and made more valuable.

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Mileo spent 12 months in Japan studying the rebuild of the areas damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  

She had never visited Christchurch until a one week research trip in July.

"I was shocked at the rigidity with which the rebuild was happening," she said. She was told, "This building could have been saved but the Blue Print said we needed to [demolish], so we did." 

"There wasn't the time or ability to pause and reflect during that process."

Back in Melbourne, she used online archives to document what was known about the 70 listed buildings that were demolished. 

This research was displayed in an artwork that used string to link the demolished buildings, their date of construction, post-quake assessment by Heritage NZ, reason for demolition, and date of demolition. 

Actual shaking destroyed six heritage buildings. 

Her researched showed that Heritage NZ was unable to assess many buildings and also that no reason for demolition was publicly available for many historic buildings. 

The exhibition closed on Monday. Mileo will take the exhibition back to Melbourne for assessment towards her degree.

 - Stuff

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