Libraries, Things to do  |  14 Jul 2021

A five-year University of Canterbury photography project provides a window into the people and environments of Christchurch during a period of rapid change.

Currently showing at Tūranga Central Library, We Stand Here: Celebrating Five Years of the Christchurch Documentary Project is a selection of images from more than 1500 taken by student photographers between 2014 and 2019.

The exhibition “celebrates the extraordinary in the ordinary,” showcasing overlooked moments of everyday life and the vibrancy of our communities, says University of Canterbury Senior Lecturer in Photography Tim Veling.

“We are a bi-cultural city with an increasingly multi-cultural makeup. The collaboration between our students, Christchurch City Libraries and Place in Time: The Christchurch Documentary Project presented a challenge to document real people in real places across Ōtautahi,” Mr Veling says.

In one image, Raymond and Colleen Holland share lunch in their Bishopdale kitchen. Raymond flashes a cheeky grin and Colleen laughs out loud.

The photographer, Janeth Gil, honed her skills as a UC Fine Arts student participating in the project, but says the benefits extended beyond that.

“It gave me an excuse to explore and learn from our communities in Ōtautahi Christchurch, giving me a feeling of connection and helping me to find my tūrangawaewae, my place to stand.”

The project was initiated by Christchurch City Libraries. University of Canterbury students contributed to it through the university’s Professional and Community Engagement (PACE) internship programme, which gives students credits for working with community and company projects.

An image from the project 'We Stand Here: Children's vision for their Otautahi'

A city for children 

Also showing at Tūranga is We Stand Here – Children’s Vision for their Ōtautahi, a collaboration between Mr Veling and students at Christchurch East School.

The panoramic artworks were inspired by workshops held with pupils from the school, where they discussed their connection to the central city and ideas that would make it more feel more welcoming for them.

Children who visit the exhibition can create their own artwork to express their feelings about a more liveable Ōtautahi. 

Both exhibitions run until 27 September.