It’s time to grab a rug, pack a picnic hamper and head into the city to catch a film, with the 2019-20 Leighs Construction Outdoor Cinema at The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora kicking off on 13 December.
Films for all ages will be screened on two dates each summer month in the picturesque North Quad – immersing cinemagoers in one of New Zealand’s landmark locations surrounded by stunning heritage buildings.
Films showing this year include The Lion King (2019), Paddington, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Sione’s Wedding, Elf, The Truman Show, Dumbo (2019) and perennial festive favourite Love Actually.
Leighs Construction Managing Director Anthony Leighs says the organisation is honoured to be working on what is one of the country’s most significant clusters of heritage buildings. “We continue to support the Outdoor Cinema as we believe it is a great initiative to reinvigorate people’s love for the city, enabling the community to come together to enjoy an evening of great movies, and an even better backdrop with the historic buildings that surround them.”
Cinema nights are on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 December 2019, Friday 24 and Saturday 25 January 2020, and Friday 7 and Saturday 8 February 2020. Child-friendly family films will start at 5:30pm followed by movies for adults at 8pm.
Entry is by koha/donation, which will go directly toward The Arts Centre’s $259 million restoration programme. As an independent charitable trust, the earthquake-damaged centre relies upon donations, gifts and sponsorship to complete the enormous heritage project.
Critically acclaimed Kiwi songwriter, musician, vocalist and producer Bic Runga showed her support for the victims of the Christchurch terror attack at last month’s You Are Us/Aroha Nui concert.
Now she’s stretching out her stay in her hometown, where she is the first artist-in-residence in The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora since the earthquakes. The two residency apartments were closed after the earthquakes, along with the independent charitable trust’s other category one heritage buildings and the Creative Residencies programme has been on hiatus ever since.
However, with the $290 million restoration programme at The Arts Centre now two-thirds complete, the programme has been reinstated to welcome creative-thinkers back into the space 20 years after it first launched. Auckland-based Bic – who was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to music in 2006 and inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2016 – arrived last month for a two-part residency in a freshly restored and strengthened building in the Christchurch cultural centre where she will stay until later this month, before returning for a week in July to hold songwriting workshops.
“This residency is a wonderful chance for me to reconnect with my Ōtautahi roots and give back to a community that has been through so much,” she says. “To be based in such a beautiful Aotearoa heritage landmark steeped in so much arts and cultural history and where many great creators have been before me is a real honour. I can’t wait to see the impact it’ll have on my songwriting.”
Home to one of the most significant collections of heritage buildings in New Zealand, The Arts Centre is a must visit for fans of beautiful architecture – particularly those with an interest in the distinctive Gothic Revival style.
Photographer Johannes van Kan had front row seats to the buildings’ extensive restoration after they suffered extensive damage in the Canterbury earthquakes.
Did you have any ties to The Arts Centre prior to this project?
I had previously photographed events and people around The Arts Centre but nothing actually for The Arts Centre itself.
What was it like having the freedom to observe the restoration through your lens rather than being told specifically what to photograph?
The freedom allowed me to be expressive. It allowed me to discover images. It was unique as an opportunity and I was very fortunate to be part of it.
A lot of the images displayed in your exhibition at Pūmanawa earlier this year were black and white – what was the reason behind that?
Black and white imagery has a simplicity that is very much about using light to tell a story without the complications of colour. Actually, my biggest bugbear was orange cones.
Do you think the public understands the amount of work going into the restoration at The Arts Centre?
I would be surprised if many people had a full idea of what’s really involved. It is a huge project made up of many parts with many experts bringing everything together. There were unique skills like lead working and heritage masonry work, combined with modern engineering technology. There were multiple construction companies dealing with complicated strengthening and restoration. If there was another earthquake, I would go to The Arts Centre to be safe.
Did you learn some interesting stories about the buildings or tenants who used to occupy them?
The Arts Centre is full of stories of what people used to do there. The stories I was most interested in were those told by what was left behind in the spaces immediately after the earthquakes.
What were some of the challenges of shooting photographs on an active worksite?
Being aware of health and safety was the main one. There was dust everywhere and changing lenses was always a concern. Working in this environment is all about respect. It was important that I had as little impact as possible on the imagery aside from being the observer.
Did you gain an understanding of the stonemasons’ craft?
To understand stonemasonry, you need to wield the tools. You need to strike the stone with chisels. You need to cut, lift, sweat and breathe in the dust – through a mask, of course. I saw what they did and was aware of the care they took but it would take a lot more to understand stonemasonry.