Photographic reminder of quake-hit buildings

ENDURING IMAGE: The old Lyttelton Council building on the corner of London and Oxford streets.
KIRK HARGREAVES/ Fairfax NZ

ENDURING IMAGE: The old Lyttelton Council building on the corner of London and Oxford streets.

More than 30 years ago, photographer Jae Renaut decided to photograph Lyttelton's heritage buildings in case something happened to them.

"Little did we know," he says now.

Renaut has a history with Lyttelton going back to the 1850s when his great-great-great grandfather was a sea captain in and out of port. Renaut himself is a keen photographer and, after a discussion with some friends at the library in 2013, he decided it was time to remind people of the town's former features.

REMINDER: Photographer Jae Renaut has put up old photos of heritage buildings he took in the 1980s. Archive photograph ...
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ

REMINDER: Photographer Jae Renaut has put up old photos of heritage buildings he took in the 1980s. Archive photograph of the Harbour Light Theatre on London St.

In the early 1980s, Renaut asked the council if he could photograph old buildings in the area for its records. It agreed, and the black and white photos survived the earthquakes.

This year, Renaut chose the most famous buildings from his old photos and enlarged them onto canvasses. Local instrument maker, Peter Stephen, sourced demolition wood and turned it into beautiful frames for the photos.

"He left it with the scars and rights of passage from demolition," Renaut said.

LOOK BACK: A photograph of the Salvation Army barracks adorns the London St site where the original was demolished after ...
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ

LOOK BACK: A photograph of the Salvation Army barracks adorns the London St site where the original was demolished after the quakes.

The frames are almost works of art in themselves.

Renaut's three photos - of the Harbour Light Theatre, the Salvation Army barracks and the Lyttelton Council Building - were installed on the vacant lots in September.

The installation cost $6500, paid for with a Creative New Zealand grant.

Renaut and his backers have plans to install three more, but need further funding to get the job done. The next three, if he gets funding, will be images of another council building on Sumner Rd, a brick pump house from the dry docks and the Empire Hotel.

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He said once he had six frames and stands, he would move them now and then, changing the image and vacant lot each time.

"It's quite an undertaking."

 - The Press

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