Christchurch, New Zealand
During the 2011 Christchurch earthquake 185 people lost their lives.
When in Christchurch I took a few minutes to visit the unofficial memorial created to commemorate and remember those who had died.
One chair for each life lost.
It was created by local Christchurch artist Peter Majendie who had arranged and hand painted the 185 white chairs on the site of a former Church which had been so badly damaged during the quake that it had to be demolished. The chairs were later moved to its present site. Majendie had apparently been inspired by the empty chairs painted by dutch artist Van Gogh.
Each of the 185 chairs represents the age and personality of each of the people who had died. A rocking chair, a babies high chair, wheelchairs, school stool, babies car seat and an armchair amongst them. The chairs were erected initially as a temporary memorial but they have since become a tourist attraction with many people from around the world visiting to pay their respects. Many people in Christchurch would now like to see the installation become a permanent fixture in the city.
It is certainly a very moving memorial.
The Cathedral in Christchurch was also significantly damaged during the earthquake, still showing the scars of the earthquake some nine years later. A temporary Cathedral was constructed and very quickly became known as the Cardboard Cathedral because 86 cardboard tubes were used in its construction.
I was told by a member of the public that before the building was fully enclosed rainwater had soaked in and destroyed much of the exposed cardboard and it had to be replaced. I found the Cathedral to be very light and spacious inside. The pew chairs particularly were beautifully designed. An impressive building.
The Cardboard Cathedral is a short walk away from the 185 chairs.
If visiting Christchurch both sites are well worth spending a little time at.