What is the Temple?
“The Temple for Christchurch” is a large scale interactive art installation that seeks to provide a mechanism for emotional healing alongside the physical rebuilding of the city, and to be a catalyst for reflection on the past three years of earthquakes; from the initial damage caused, the lingering effects, to the process of recovery, and residents’ hopes for the future.
It will be open in the central city on the site of the old Convention Centre on Peterborough St from September 4th-15th, commemorating the anniversary of the first quake to hit Christchurch on September 4th. It will then be relocated to Motukarara racecourse to be ceremonially burned in a public event on September 21st.
The structure itself is a visual interpretation of an earthquakes movement through the ground, with its design is based on the seismic data of the February 22nd earthquake, the largest and most destructive of the earthquakes to hit Christchurch. It is being built by by local volunteers from wood recycled from demolished houses, and will be 40m long, 25m wide and 6.3m tall when completed.
As people visit the Temple they are encouraged to share their stories and experiences with others by adding to the walls of the Temple. People are invited to bring photos, poems, mementos, letters from insurance companies; to write poems, and draw pictures. As more and more people add their stories to the walls, a communal dialogue is created, allowing insight into how others have been affected by the shared history of the earthquakes.
The act of writing out these stories and the emotions associated with them can be a cathartic experience, an opportunity to let go of the of the past and move forward more freely. We encourage people to bring any emotions from their lives they wish to share, both positive and negative, and not just those earthquake related.
The final burning of the Temple signifies the release of the stories it has gathered, and will be the finale to a community event including performances, workshops, and speakers from notable Christchurch projects. This event will be held on the 21st, spring equinox, at Motukarara Race-Course.
“There is a great need for the people of Christchurch to finally let go of the horrific experiences they have suffered from the over a year and a half of almost constant earthquakes. Almost everyone is hurting over the trauma they have been through.
We are not often offered a tangible way to deal with these traumatic experiences, which are either buried and ignored, or dealt with through sometimes lengthy counseling processes. Through our project, we are offering people the chance to write about their experiences, reflect upon those felt by others, and see them all turn into ashes.“
-Hippathy Valentine, Temple Project Manager, Christchurch Resident and Artist