Springclean for 185 Empty Chairs
About half of the original 185 empty white chairs erected in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes have been replaced.
A further three chairs from the original installation were replaced at a working bee on Saturday due to irreparable damage. The remaining chairs, representing those killed in the February 2011 earthquake, were cleaned and repainted by the committed ‘‘community around the chairs’’.
Artist Peter Majendie designed the work as a therapeutic place to reflect on loss.
Working bee events were held at the site before Christmas, before the quake anniversary, and at the start of spring. Most of the chairs were made from wood or steel so had held up well, but the canvas and fragile chairs had to be replaced more often, Majendie said.
Between 80 to 100 of the original chairs remained at the site.
Majendie said an important point was that the 185 Empty Chairs site was art, not a memorial like the official Oi Manawa earthquake remembrance wall. No chair represented any particular victim of the earthquake so removing or changing one was not symbolic of the loss of a person.
‘‘They’re representing absences; everyone has had the feeling of looking at an empty chair sometime. It should offer a place of reflection and of contemplation, somewhere people can think about their own loss, not just in the earthquake but in their own way.’’
The chairs were originally installed on the site of the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church for the first anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake and are now in their second location – a corner site on Madras and Cashel streets earmarked for the city’s new stadium.
Majendie wants a permanent installation located in the central city.
Christchurch earthquake memorial chairs founder Pete Majendie organised a working bee at the weekend to spruce up the memorial exhibit. STACY SQUIRES/STUFF