I have developed a habit of, when the subject arises, becoming an evangelical preacher of my city. I don’t mean to. It all starts innocently enough, a conversation about a restaurant, cafe or event, but then this wave of enthusiasm hits me and I can’t control myself. I can fill a good ten minutes harping on about what an exciting, vibrant, creative and utterly unique place this is to live.
I like to surround myself with other positive, enthusiastic and creative people who feel the same as me, so this point of view is not seen a alien or over the top. We’re all here fighting the same cause.
But not everyone feel like this, and it still dumbfounds me.
Yes, Christchurch can be a touch place to get into. It’s sprawling geography is one reason for this. Think of Christchurch being car needy Los Angeles, to Wellington’s contained, pedestrian friendly Manhattan. And our city also has a reputation of being cliquey – you status being based on what school you went to and what suburb you grew up in. Well that’s bullshit (unless you’re trying to get in with some fucking right wing posh crowd who only talk of european cars and popping over to the Maldives for a mini break). I went to a state school and grew up in the East and I am doing just fine thankyouverymuch.
And you know what? The people bitching and moaning about Christchurch being boring and bleak are not those who have moved here post quakes – the ones who I could empathise with if they said it’s hard to meet new people – surprisingly, the folk complaining are usually those who have been since before the earthquakes.
And I admit, that if you are here, trying to live like you did before earthquakes….well excuse me whilst I nod off in a puddle of my own drool. Prior to 2010, Christchurch was a mall city, with a dying CBD. Most people went to town for two reasons: Ballantynes department store – a mecca for Merivale mums and nanas in twinsets and pearls, buying up on Lancome and le Creuset. Or on a Saturday night to crawl along ‘The Strip’ a block of a dozen or so bars, like you find in any city, choking in 2 for $10 bottles of vodka cruisers, big screens playing the rugby, and vomit splattered pavements at 2am.
The rest of the time most would just go to the mall. I’m not going to get into a psychoanalysis and cultural reasons why the Westernised world is fighting the mall, and why they will always dominate, you know the reasons why, and yeah, I get it. If you do want to see a good short film about mall culture, i recommend you watch THIS which was recently produced by The Wireless. It does a great job.
So maybe the problem isn’t snobbishness or geography, more that re-education is required. A lot has changed since pre eq, and whilst the malls are and always will continue to thrive, there is a whole other world popping up.
Like I always tell, people, in my “pro chch” rants, I admit that it’s not always easy to know what amazing stuff is going on – but if you keep your ear to the ground and utilise social media – you very quickly get hooked into the right circles and subsequently in the loop. Christchurch is small and the people making the good shit happen are all very supportive of each other. We all like, attend and share each other’s work and events.
And you know what another big thing is? Just saying “YES!” and leaving the house. I tell a lot of people about things that are happening, and invite them, but not many bother to act on it.
So why am I writing all of this, now?
Well, this weekend has been a great example of these things cropping up – events that are unique to Christchurch.
Well last night I was lucky enough to attend the opening of CAPD Street Art Exhibition in New Brighton. It is a fantastic display of NZ and International street, graffiti, and stencil artists.
I know that at the beginning of the year, everyone in Chch lost their shit about some mass produced Banksy prints being displayed in the Canterbury Museum…yup…I mean, I love Banksy, but a Banksy exhibition of prints that some rich dude paid hundreds of thousands for, and now is making money from touring them kinda misses the point of Banksy.
Whereas CAPD, well it’s the real deal.
The exhibition was the brainchild, and put together by my fellow market pal Clint Park of PORTA – Stencil Art. Clint really did such a stellar job, from the exhibition layout, variety of artists, publicity, music, food and beautiful ice cold beer from local brewery Cassels & Sons.
I got really excited by last night, it had such a cool vibe and one of the best exhibitions I’ve seen in Christchurch for some time. It displayed a lot of really exciting new talent, in a top notch, invigorating way.
I was lucky enough to nab myself a copy of this panda print by Devos One.
…I don’t want to sounds like a pseudo hipster but it really felt like the best of Bushwick had come to Brighton and yet another example, of how if you know where to look, there’s some bloody exciting stuff happening in this weird city of ours.
Here is the event page on Facebook, and if you are in Christchurch should go.
Also this weekend hospitality mecca, Stranges Lane, opened, boasting three new bars and restaurants – including Orleans and Lower 9th Diner, whose waffles and soft shelled crab I am dying to get into.
Auricle opened in new Regent Street, a world first concept gallery and wine bar. Attached to the Auricle’s sonic arts gallery, is what is believed to be the world’s first dedicated wine and sound bar. Every month, a leading New Zealand wine writer and sound artist will curate a wine list matched to the exhibition and the music playing in the space. Whoa.
The New Zealand International Film Festival opening this week and will be playing a huge programme of local and international films and documentaries for the next two weeks. I have managed to get my list down a to twelve films, starting tonight with Nick Cave’s 20,000 Days on Earth.
As I write, the sun is out, and spring is lurking – if I had my choice I would be in Hagley Park with my strange dog, instagramming the shit out of the blossom, daffodils and a latte. Alas, I must work, as the next hot arts event of Christchurch is looming – Lost and Found Market – on 23 August. This Queen needs to stay inside and get creating some fresh works to sell.
So, yeah, quit your moaning – go gout in the sun, grab some chicken and waffles, take a walk in the park, go look at the Street Art then head down to the film festival.
If you do all of that today and STILL think that this wonderful, weird little city of ours is bleak and boring, well then we’ll need to have a serious talk…you fun sponge.