Undertaken in 1992 by students studying within the third year photography programme at the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, this body of work formed the base content from which the Place in Time archive later grew.
Over time, these images have taken on new meaning and grown in importance. It is fair to say that Christchurch’s city center suffered something of a downturn in the 1990’s and 2000’s, particularly as a result of intense suburban mall and retail development. A once bustling CBD with Cathedral Square as the epicenter of social activity–home to most of the city’s bus transfer points, movie theaters, video game arcades, take-away food joints and bars–the inner city as a whole, save for some innovative laneway developments, was fast entering a state of depression, and in may cases disrepair.
Popular opinion has it that the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes only finished off what poor city planning and miss-management had started. However, most would agree that the near clean slate the earthquake and subsequent recovery process has left us with has resulted in a profound, collective sense of loss and grief, not least because of the passing of loved ones, but also because most all things familiar and relatable to personal and collective memory in the city center no longer exist.
These images, taken in 1992 of one of Christchurch’s most iconic streets are however more than simple reminders of what has been lost or how we once were. Importantly, both individually and collectively, they are simply great pictures that testify to the importance of this kind of work, both as a form of creative expression and record.