Bishopdale 2017: The Christchurch Documentary Project

Going beyond the iconic elephant slide and the suburban mall, five photographers from the University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts immersed themselves in the public and private lives of Bishopdale residents to create the latest instalment of The Christchurch Documentary Project – Bishopdale 2017. You are welcome to celebrate the launch of this online image collection, and view the exhibition at Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre. The exhibition opens at 6pm on Tuesday 28 November and then runs until Friday 22 December.

Teenagers playing at the Bishopdale skate park. Photo by Janneth Gil. CCL-BI2017-38-JG-5517
Teenagers playing at the Bishopdale skate park. Photo by Janneth Gil. CCL-BI2017-38-JG-5517

Janneth Gil, Liam Lyons, Elise Williams, Lucas Perelini and Thomas Herman photographed the people and physical environment of Bishopdale between March and September this year, building a collection of over 350 images that capture both the history of the area and the often overlooked moments of community life. The gathering at the fishing and casting club meetings; new mums learning baby massage at the Plunket rooms; a father and teenage son watching the All Blacks over a pint, a Coke and a bowl of chips — for the photographers, these were some of the moments that conveyed the deep connections people had in Bishopdale, to each other, and to the place.

Father and son watching the game. Photo by Elise Williams. CCL-BI2017-EW-1683
Father and son watching the game. Photo by Elise Williams. CCL-BI2017-EW-1683

“Going to a community like that and noticing that there are so many things going on and people getting together – it opens doors and gives the feeling like you can belong to a place,” Janneth Gil reflected after completing the project. Like Janneth, all of the photographers discovered a vibrant and inclusive community in Bishopdale, and were humbled by the generosity people showed as they were invited into their homes, workplaces and clubs.

For Lucas Perelini whose only experience of Bishopdale before this project was Saturday morning rugby at Nunweek Park, he was inspired by the richness of life that exists in suburban Christchurch if you only pause to look: “Sometimes you can walk around a place and it doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot going on – but there really is. There’s so much going on that you can’t always see at first glance.”

Elephant slide, Bishopdale Park. Photo by Liam Lyons. CCL-BI2017-LL-7239
Elephant slide, Bishopdale Park. Photo by Liam Lyons. CCL-BI2017-LL-7239

The Christchurch Documentary Project is a collaboration between Christchurch City Libraries and the University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts that began in 2015. Internship positions are offered to photography students in their 3rd or 4th year of study with the brief to create a documentary photographic record of a Christchurch community. The photographs are then included in the Christchurch City Libraries Digital Heritage Collection, acting as an important social record for generations to come.

Pamela Barrett, National Cat Show judge, with winner of the short haired cat division. Photo by Thomas Herman. CCL-BI2017-27-TH-4394
Pamela Barrett, National Cat Show judge, with winner of the short haired cat division. Photo by Thomas Herman. CCL-BI2017-27-TH-4394
Burnside Scottish Country Dance Club. Photo by Janneth Gil. CCL-BI2017-04-JG-5533
Burnside Scottish Country Dance Club. Photo by Janneth Gil. CCL-BI2017-04-JG-5533

Sam Ludemann,
Team Leader, Spreydon Library

A magnificent disaster, or a really good read?

Cover of Crinoline: Fashion's most magnificent disasterI’m a sucker for Victorian fashion, the sillier the better – and it’s hard to beat the Victorian crinoline for ingenuity, ridiculousness, and sheer presence. So I was pretty excited to get my hands on a shiny new copy of Crinoline: fashion’s most magnificent disaster.

Co-authored by Denis Pellerin and Dr Brian May (yes, that Brian May – no stranger to extreme fashion himself), Crinoline documents the rise and fall (metaphorically!) of this most capacious of undergarments through a rather unexpected record – stereoscopic images. It’s a sumptuous boxed set, containing a richly illustrated history and a stereoscopic viewer (designed by May, patent pending). This nifty little fold-up apparatus allows you to see the images in the book in 3D, as they should be viewed.

Victorian crinoline
Crinoline, circa 1869, United Kingdom, by W.S. & E.H. Thomson. Gift of Elizabeth Ridder, 2000. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (GH007988)

The second work by the pair on this subject, the book is meticulously researched and very readable. Through 3D images and other documentary history, we get a real sense of the outrage, amusement, and titillation the undergarment caused in Victorian “social media” – cartoons, pamphlets, periodicals, and that hugely popular parlour entertainment, the stereoscopic viewer.

The crinoline was actually a huge (sorry!) improvement on previous womenswear fashions, replacing the layers of heavy petticoats needed to achieve fashionably bell-shaped skirts. Its lightness and ease of movement was a liberation (and also an excellent personal space generator – I can attest to this, having worn a couple to fancy dress events). However it also had its hazards: there were many cases of women being horrifically injured, or even killed, when their crinolines caught fire, became caught in trams, or suffered other wince-inducing vehicular mishaps.

When I first came across mention of Crinoline, I thought the combination of topics could be a little forced or gimmicky, but this really isn’t the case. Pellerin and May have actually hit upon a very real convergence of two tremendously popular coexisting technologies that, when looked at together, provide a vivid and altogether fascinating glimpse of Victorian fashion and attitudes.

More information

Some ‘mindful’ thinking on future trends

MiNDFOOD is a popular magazine that never lasts long on the shelves. Marketing promotes it as containing:

intelligent, inspirational ideas and information. A completely integrated concept, MiNDFOOD the magazine brings you in depth features on society, wellness, environment, culture, travel and food. It’s all about Smart Thinking.

Cover of The Everyday Fermentation HandbookSo when MiNDFOOD publishes its Trends for the Future, we should surely sit up and listen. Bear in mind however that these trends are very much focused towards the MiNDFOOD reader – urbane, “mindful”, middle-class and with a spare bob or two.

Preserving:  Whether it’s eating like a caveman or revisiting Grandmother’s preserving tips, we are still searching for ideas from the past. Of late fermenting has become an added twist to this trend.

Later Learning: This is an area that the Library excels in. Research suggests that career changes, redundancies and retirement mean we have a lifetime of learning ahead of us. The CINCH directory is the ideal place to start looking for that next option.

Cover of Side by SideChild’s Play:  You can’t but help but have noticed the proliferation of colouring books on sale this Christmas. Although this is not an area the Library can contribute to, a previous blog post has a suggestion for Zentangles that could well satisfy the need to doodle and colour. There are also many books in the craft section that can help you to glitter and glue to your heart’s content.

Fashion to the people: Apparently runway shows are opening up to the masses with social media making them no longer the realm of the elite.  Here are some tips to help you keep one step ahead of the next big thing.

Cover of Furniture HacksInside and out: Individuality is becoming the essence of living environments… apparently.  I suspect the vast majority of us already know this, not having the time, money or inclination to redecorate in the latest trends each year, however here are two books that encourage your unique style.

Travel Smarter: It’s all about Wellness Tourism, Eco Tourism and Adventure Travel.

Cover of Happy CityUrban Renewal: Now this is a trend that we in Christchurch can understand!

Lifestyle Matters: It’s all about co-housing, communities and community living and “rural retreats”

Mindfulness goes mainstream:  You can be mindful in the kitchen, the bedroom and have mindful children and cats. We are now mindful when we eat, exercise and work. In fact Mindfulness seems to have permeated almost every aspect of the Library collection.

Arrivals and departures

The Universe can count itself lucky that there were no cameramen on hand to record my New Zealand arrival 15 years ago. Months of wailing, breast beating and sad partings had taken their toll. Add to that a Harare detour, a missed connecting flight and a night spent in a Perth Airport Transit Lounge, and what emerged at Christchurch Airport Arrivals Hall umpteen hours later was not a pretty sight.

However, I am looking forward to Christchurch Photo Hunt Competition, with its theme: Arrivals and Departures – the journeys that have shaped us.

Christchurch Photo HuntKiwis are great travellers, and worldwide there is a growing trend for people to live away from the countries of their birth. According to an article in the Jul/Sep 2015 Destinations magazine, approximately 3% of the world’s population live outside of the countries in which they were born. Frankly I would have put that figure higher given the teeming masses at the airports I frequent on my annual trips back home (wherever that may be). Maybe I am just seeing the same tired old passengers again and again?

If you are looking for inspiration to get your photographic juices flowing, we have masses of beautiful photography books, and I have a fair smattering of  of recent reads on the topic of coming and going – and running on the spot:

On coming home: Kiwis often travel out and wing their way back at some stage in life. Paula Morris has written an excellently researched little book on this topic: On Coming Home. It is a tiny book of only 76 pages about the author’s return to Auckland to look after her ageing mother, herself an immigrant. Arriving and departing is inextricably linked to our concept of Home, and this book comes with an outstanding bibliography. Norris’s mother sums it up like this:

My mother: I’m not a New Zealander.

Me: You’ve lived in New Zealand for forty years.

My mother: If I lived in China, would it make me Chinese?

Cover of The Other side of the WorldOn the lure of the new: The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop is the book I wish I had written. In this novel Charlotte uproots from Cambridge, England, to Perth, Australia, where her husband has landed a lecturing position. It is a book about people who just do not transplant well. People whose rope of yearning is so strong it starts to pull the corners of their mouths down. I have always known that I am not really a mover. Yet here I am. This book was written for me.

On to-ing and fro-ing: Justin Cartwright grew up in South Africa, but lives in England. Several of his books are about the pull that South Africa still exerts on him. Books like White Lightning, To Heaven by Water and more recently Up Against the Night. In Afrikaans (and indeed in the book White Lightning) he is disparagingly referred to as a “soutpiel”. This is a man who has one foot in England, one foot in South Africa – and I leave you to work out which part of his anatomy is in the salty Indian Ocean.

Cover of Island HomeOn staying put: My choice here is Tim Winton‘s latest book Island Home: A Landscape Memoir. This is a beautiful song of praise for how the land that we love makes us who we are – in this case the land is Australia. You get the distinct feeling from this book that Tim Winton would wither away if he had to live away from his beloved country.

But don’t think that you have to be the world’s greatest Frequent Flyer to enter the Christchurch Photo Hunt. Maybe you just went on a picnic from Sockburn to Spencer Park and you have a great photo of it. Maybe someone took your photo as you left on the bus from Worcester Boulevard (in the good old days) to take your place at Uni down south.

Help us flesh out the full panorama of all our arrivals and departures over the years. Every Picture Tells a Story!

The Halswell Project

Halswell Photo callBe part of a photographic documentary record of Halswell.

Willing volunteers needed to be photographed for an exhibition and inclusion in our digital heritage collection.

This year, Christchurch City Libraries have teamed up with the University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts to create a photographic documentary record of the wider Halswell area. This work will be exhibited as a digital exhibition at the opening of Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre, in late 2015, and will feature on the Christchurch City Libraries website through the digital heritage collection.

If you’d like to be photographed for this project please leave your name and contact details with the staff at Halswell Library.

For more information, please email library@ccc.govt.nz or call 9417923.

Getting all those ducks in a row

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, anally retentive, neat freak – the terms are out there.

Book Cover: The art of clean up

I’ve always been a little obsessive about order. When in stores, often red and large, my husband comes up to me and whispers “You’re doing it again”, and I realise I’m organising the bins of DVDs, making sure they are all up the right way, putting the ones that go together, well, together. If I am eating out and they bring cutlery, I will make sure they are straight and perfectly lined up, along with the salt and pepper and I’ll put things in order of colour, length, size – aahhh that’s better!

I actually feel agitated when I see disorder but can’t do anything about it.

At the library, I like to tidy, I like lining things up, straightening, and I get a real sense of calm when I have tidied and made things ‘right’. My brain relaxes. Libraries are perfect places to work if you have the ordered (compulsive) gene and I’m not the only one drawn to the order of a library shelf. So when a book arrived as a reserve for me, I did wonder about it, not sure I’d put it on hold, but it really appealed to me. I then found out a fellow librarian had put the book on hold for me, knowing I would love it. And I do.

Book cover: Unstuff your life

The Art of the Clean Up by Ursus Wehrli is a gem of a book. Well, it spoke to me. A book that on one page has an innocent bowl of alphabet soup photographed, then on the facing page has the soup sorted, so that the letters are lined up a-z and the carrot chunks are in a nice line underneath, perfectly spaced, you understand. On another page, the left page has a car park full of cars, on the facing page, the cars have all been parked in colour matching chunks. The photographs are lush and ordered and are  funny and quirky or weird and disturbing, depending on the way your mind works – I did a little survey among my workmates to see their reactions.

There are heaps of books out there to help you organise your life if you feel it is out of control. There are people who will come into your house and sort it all out for you, I have wondered if this is my dream job.

But I do wonder if it is healthy to fight your natural inclinations. I don’t fight my need for order, don’t get embarrassed by it or feel I have to curb it  and I think if you are a naturally messy person, just go with it. I guess as long as the health department doesn’t need to be informed, and it makes you happy, all is well.

Are you a lover of order or chaos? What makes your brain go aahhh?

Photography class starts this Saturday at South Learning Centre

Views from the Cathedral
“These photos were taken with my husbands 1st camera with his first pay.” 1957/

Want to learn how to use your digital camera better? How about popping along to this class at our South Learning Centre in Beckenham. It takes place over the next two Saturdays.

Using Your Digital Camera

A two part series suitable for beginners. It costs $10 for the two day course.

Part One: Saturday 8 March, 1 to 3pm
Learn how to compose a good photography using basic composition techniques and how to download photographs onto the computer.

Part Two: Saturday 15 March, 1 to 3pm
Learn how to manage your photographs and do some basic editing using standard computer software available on most PCs

Book your spot  in the class by phoning us at 941 5140 or email learningcentre@ccc.govt.nz

I Plan to Grow Old Disgracefully

There’s a poem called Warning by Jenny Joseph that starts:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

There’s a weird  joy in getting to an age when you realise that you can pretty much do what you like and I was overjoyed to recently find a book that should be every woman’s fashion bible as they age.

Being on the ‘fine wine’ side of 50, I am never quite sure about my ‘style’. Should I just do what I want, wear what I want, or be sensible and fade in to the beige background the way youth focused society seems to want me to? I know I’m certainly not waiting until my dotage to wear purple.

Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen, is a celebration of confidence, style, glamour and fashion amongst a wonderful group of kick arse New York women aged over 60.

It is filled with wonderful glossy photographs of gorgeous, outrageous, fabulous fashionistas who are living life to the full. Sure they must have squillions in the bank and the way they look is their life, but hey, why not. There are also a few men in the book who also have their own style, sometimes they seem to be just trying to keep up with their partner.

Cohen was inspired by his own grandmother’s style. There are wonderful stories about these women, their lives, their inspirations and why they love to push the boundaries.

I identify with their obvious, ‘why wear one string of pearls when you can wear ten?’ ethos and their sense of colour and fabrics is stunning. Some of the pieces they wear are indeed art works. Accessories  are definitely their best friends and they just ooze confidence and a strong sense of self.

What are your thoughts on aging and fashion?  Do you think we should fade into oblivion, or do we stand proud, and raise a fashionable middle finger to convention?

Picture this: 1902

View in our collection

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We have digitised a rather splendid 1902 publication Tourists’ guide to Canterbury.

Home, Garden and DIY: picks from our latest newsletter

Some picks from our March Home, Garden and DIY newsletter:

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