On February 22 there was an earthquake in NZ’s 2nd largest city, Christchurch. There’d been one there last year, in September, it hadn’t seemed so very bad. A struggle for people directly affected, but no one died, and everything was pretty much back to normal. In straight numbers, that quake was as big as the one in Haiti where hundreds of thousands of people died, but Christchurch had much stricter building codes, and happily the quake struck in the middle of the night when most were home asleep. Everyone was starting to feel … safe again.
The second quake, on February 22nd, was a very different disaster. The epicentre was shallow therefore the force much shaper. Happening during a weekday lunchtime a quirk of geology meant this one hit the centre of town especially hard. Perhaps 200 people died, they’re still not sure, most in just three collapsed buildings. Some hundreds of kilometres away I, like everyone else in NZ was mesmerised by the unedited TV footage, as emotional reporters and passersby did their best to get a hold of what had happened. Twitter, facebook … what could you do … but watch and witness, and hug friends, especially ones with family unable to be contacted in Christchurch.
Many buildings which didn’t quite fall down are damaged and likely to be demolished; lovely old schools like the one my mother attended, churches and pubs and hotels where friends met, married or stayed on honeymoons. The prettiest old stone buildings were the most affected, so many personal geographies are changed for ever. The buildings not as important as the people of course, in a country the size of NZ everyone knows someone affected by the loss of a friend or a workmate. And there were lovely stories too; including a friend whose first grandchild was safely born two days later in the battered but functional main hospital. Another good-news moment, a father feared dead was discovered ‘mostly okay’ in hospital a nearly week after the quake (a friend was teaching his daughter when the call arrived during a class).
So (getting back to this art blog thing), the v. trivial answer for me on what could I do, was a quick poster for a variety show held three days later on the 25th; El Jaguar and Friends heart Shakeytown. The show was organised at a local bar by a ex-Christurchian (Christchurchonian?), and was one of several Wellington Fringe-associated events held to raise funds for Christchurch earthquake relief. I took photos during the show, not the most stunning set as the stage lighting at the bar where the event was held is not the best.
Not that a couple of hours using Photoshop is quite rescuing people from fallen buildings – I actually trained to do that in a minor way back in my old workplace; everyone expected the big one to hit Wellington. Not yet.
But, better Photoshop than nothing.