"Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral."
Robert Louis Stevenson
When the 22nd of February 2011 earthquake struck and the Cathedral in the Square was no longer accessible, the Diocese of Christchurch lost its mother church and the people of Canterbury lost a beloved symbol of their province. In the words of former Dean Peter Beck, it had always been a place ‘where the city comes to celebrate and to grieve’.
The Cardboard Cathedral project captured the imagination of many, nationally and internationally. The building slowly rose, put together step by step, tube by tube, day by day – the handwork of those who believed in the idea.
As I documented the build, I sought to capture something of the hard work and humanity going into its construction; the materials, the technology and the people involved.
The site manager, Murray Flett, kept me fully informed every step of the way, day and night. He introduced me to all the key players and kept me safe.
I would also like to warmly thank the following people and organisations for generously allowing me access to do my job and especially for the elegance and natural unselfconsciousness of the photographic models!
Bridgit Anderson was born in Christchurch and studied photography at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts. In 1985 she left for England where she taught in a series of London art schools, eventually returning to lecture at Ilam in 2004. Since then she has been a key figure in Place in Time: the Christchurch Documentary Project.
Anderson’s contributions to Place in Time include Caring for the dead (2005-06), in which she spent a year working closely with a Christchurch firm of funeral directors and with families who had recently been bereaved; and more recently a collaborative project to document the post-earthquake lives of residents in the suburb of Avonside culminating in Thx 4 the Memories, which was exhibited as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival 2013.
She has also created a photo-essay, Shigeru Ban: Cardboard Cathedral (2013), about the construction of the Christchurch landmark. Other projects include documenting the installation of Neil Dawson’s sculpture FANFARE for the publication by SCAPE Public Art FANFARE (2015) and a commission to create photographic portraits for the IHC touring exhibition Take a Moment With Us.
Anderson is currently the manager of Place in Time, responsible for its exhibition and education programme. She specialises in human-interest stories and related educational projects. Her work has been widely published and exhibited throughout New Zealand and internationally and examples of her work are held in the National Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington.