Thursday, December 21, 2017

Another year of Wellington

The temporary city of Wellington is still here. The Town Hall remains empty and a few more buildings were demolished after the big scare of Kaikoura. We walk past yellow notices that warn us in small type about the critical weaknesses of our infrastructure. But owners still have another decade to bring their buildings up to code, during which time local government regulations require that there be no Big Earthquake.

I started using Instagram this year, and have enjoyed plugging into a stream of pictures in place of the usual streams of words.

Pictures are texts, too, and like every other text their meaning changes over time. When it comes to domestic, family photographs, I find that with the passing of the years I look not just at the people, but at the surrounding details – books, posters, pieces of furniture – that were an invisible part of the everyday background, but have become interesting again after a long absence. I expect this is quite a common reaction. I think it’s the same with cities, and that urban photographs appreciate over time in the same way. This is true of places that change very little, but could become suddenly truer of Wellington. What we are doing, then, is building a catalogue of the everyday that is also a collection of historical documents in the making: a remembrance of things not yet past. Like this Lyall Bay dairy.

Or one of those cottages that give the city its visual signature, so long as they survive in sufficient numbers.

It was certainly strange, in this city of earthquakes were unsecured lintels could spell death, to spot these two characters perched atop a building in upper Cuba Street last summer. Soon after I took these pictures, they were gone.

This is also the year I became fascinated with the problem of how to photograph facades from street level, but without the vanishing lines of perspective (which don’t work very well with the square, standard aspect of Instagram). It requires tricking your camera into thinking it’s scanning a document. These two photos of The Vic in Cuba Street are both taken from the same angle, on the pavement.

As is this photo of the former Bank of New Zealand building, now Logan Brown, also on Cuba.

Or these high windows in Lambton Quay.

Did you know? You get a better view of the lions at Wellington Zoo by walking down Manchester Street and peering through the pine trees, for they love to sit on an aluminium roof that is invisible to paying visitors.

This photo looks like it’s heavily filtered but it’s not. It’s just one of the bolts that hold our hills together.

A few more random images. Maranui seen from Hornsey Road.

Along Mornington Road by night.

This sheep on Matiu/Sommes Island.

The sky over the harbour.

Above Celie's, on Adelaide Road.

Gospel Hall, Newtown.

Katipo House.

The Zephyrometer, restored to its pre-lightning strike glory.

Offset Plates, Jessie Street.

And finally, the jolly butcher of Island Bay wishing you all a merry Chrsistmas.