Scape Public Art trail to reconnect people back to Christchurch city centre
A trail of new public artworks opens in Christchurch on Saturday with the aim of reconnecting people back to the earthquake-damaged city centre.
The art trail can be walked in 30 minutes and takes in about a dozen new public artworks, including a statue in the Avon River by British artist Antony Gormley, new sculptures by Christchurch artist Hannah Kidd in the Re:Start mall and a colourful artwork by Kiwi artist Judy Millar at the top of New Regent St.
The artworks are part of the Scape Public Art Festival, which starts on Saturday and runs until November 15. Most of the artworks will be in place until the festival's close, although the Gormley statue is permanent and the Millar sculpture will stay for two years.
Scape director Rob Garrett said he wanted to help Christchurch people reconnect with their city centre.
"How can a public art festival like Scape help locals reconnect with the central city?
"My first audience is people who call Christchurch home. How can Scape contribute to their experience of the city? We know that people have resisted for all sorts of emotional and practical reasons coming into the city. It is too hard to navigate, roads are closed. Locals have said that they still find it too distressing. There are very potent memories for them.
"In this city, people are already struggling with finding places. Can the artwork help create new memorable experiences in a location and help them navigate the city again?"
He wanted to ensure the artworks were accessible and could be viewed during a lunch hour or by a family after school.
"If someone has a map, I don't want them to have the experience where they have found the location, but can't find the artwork. You can see the works before you arrive at them. That makes the walk more relaxed and enjoyable."
He said the Gormley statue in the Avon River near Gloucester St drew attention to a particular spot in the city centre.
"Because it is placed in the river, that focuses your attention down to a certain part of Christchurch and you start noticing the trees, the shape of the riverbank and you see the flow of the water and over time you will see the river rise and fall on the statue's shins.
"You become more aware of the environment around the figure."
Garrett hopes that reconnecting people with their city centre will mean they are more likely to have a say about its future.
"If people spend time in the city centre they own it. If locals own the city centre in their minds then they may feel more open about having a say in what it might be. This is where public art may have a modest role to play here. Public art can activate the imagination and inspire people."
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