Lina Lamont

"What do you think I am, dumb or something?"

The Art of Recovery

This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 15th November 2015

Kiwi cinematographer Peter Young’s heart-warming documentary takes us around the carcass of Christchurch’s CBD where out-of-towners may be amazed to see that locals have taken it upon themselves to embrace “rebuilding the spirit” as an artistic rather than architectural enterprise.

While faceless houses and sideless buildings still scar the urban environment, myriad creative examples of pop-up optimism dot the spaces in between – the “gaps” that are being filled by the Gap Fillers collective.

Whether you fancy a spot of outdoors swing dancing at the coin-operated dance-o-mat or are committed to utilising abandoned lots for “take what you need” community gardens, Christchurch’s creative souls have been busy in recent years, ignoring the Government arrogance that has marginalised the local voice about how the city should be rebuilt, and simply getting on with making their city liveable again. Cycle power runs outdoor cinemas, while a temporary art installation of 185 white chairs (memorialising those who perished in the 2011 quake) has been in situ longer than originally envisaged. Street artists make full use of their huge new canvasses, while dedicated actors create theatre without a theatre.

Passionate, articulate interviewees note that the earthquake’s silver lining has been the breaking down of barriers – both literal and metaphorical – between people in the Garden City’s communities. It’s truly inspirational stuff, and an object lesson in spiritual restoration needing to come from the people and not those supposedly in power.

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