On February 22nd 2011 news travelled the world that Christchurch, situated in the South Island of New Zealand, had been struck by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake and that the city had been torn apart. Hundeds of buildings were damaged and among those was Christchurch Normal School, which as a result, is now destined for demolition, however civil engineer and self-taught artist, Mike Hewson, caught wind of the news and didn't want the space to go to waste, so decided to use the abandoned building as a blank canvas to pay homeage to those affected by the quake. Introducing, Homage To Lost Spaces.
The building that showcases this incredible new street art began as a school in 1876 but was later transformed into apartments and retail space and named Cranmer Courts. Today it stands partly demolished and looking rather deshevilled, but has been given new life with the eye-catching murals that cover large sections of its facade. Hewson has transformed the buildng almost into a contemporary gallary space and it currently poudly displays 10 massive optical illusion-inducing mixed-media art pieces that cover 120 - 130 square metres...to be frank, it's pretty bloody cool!
To set the scene for you before this entire art project began, Hewson was sharing studio with his brother and when the quake struck they were forced to flee due to its close proximity to the Chistchurch Cathedral, which suffered tremendous damage. He was not alone. In that same building other Christchurch artists had to flee and lost studio space and work, and it is actually the figures of many of these people that you can see on the murals that inhabit the boarded window and roof spaces on the earthquake-battered Gothic Revival facade of Cranmer Courts.
The striking installation showcases a range of different images depicting people in fairly normal every day situations. One man is riding his bike, while another is sitting at his desk working and someone else is scratching their head almost in confusion. It is the nomality of the pictures that make the piece even stronger as the are so contradictory to your typical street art. "I intended this work to project the same spirit of life back into Cranmer Courts, to help people remember, before it is gone, that this building, too, was once full of community, fun and family." Hewson said.
The installation cost $15,000 and was funded by the artist himself along with private investors. A tonne of work has gone into the piece and it promotes a really poweful message of hope and prosperity, so we'd strongly suggest you check it out before it is torn down.