Art & creativity  |  06 Jun 2019

Two painted sections of the Berlin Wall could be installed in central Christchurch later this year in time to mark the 30th anniversary of the original wall coming down.

One of the sections of the Berlin Wall.

This is one of four sections of the Berlin Wall gifted to Christchurch in 2017.

Christchurch City Council’s Social, Community Development and Housing Committee will consider at its meeting next Wednesday 12 June whether the sections should be installed as a semi-permanent public artwork on a site diagonally opposite the Floral Clock near the Christchurch Town Hall.

This location has been recommended because it's bordered by two significant brutalist architecture buildings characterised by their monolithic concrete construction. West Berlin was home to the height of brutalist architecture after World War II.

The sections are to be installed as close together as possible in reference to the original wall, which separated families for decades.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which physically and ideologically divided East and West Berlin between 1961 and 1989.

The two sections of wall were gifted in 2017 to Christchurch by German construction firm Beratungsgesellschaft mbH which had the job of dismantling the controversial barrier. This arrangement was brokered by Ministry of Culture and Heritage staff with the assistance of SCAPE Public Art.

A group of Berlin-based students with learning disabilities painted one section (segment 88) in late 2014 or early 2015 while the second, segment 143, was painted to represent themes from television series Doctor Who around the same time. 

Each piece is about 3.6 metres tall and weighs about four tonnes. They have been in storage in Christchurch awaiting a decision on where they should be installed.

Other sections of wall are on display around the world and stand for the peaceful and successful pursuit of liberty.

The Committee will also consider a request from Ōtākaro Ltd for the long-term installation, on loan, of a sculpture called Lift, by New Zealand artist Phil Price, to Barkers Plantation on the corner of Kilmore St and Madras St.

This is a listed heritage site and archaeological authority could be required from Heritage New Zealand.

The artwork, which weighs 3 tonnes and has a flight theme, was made by Price in 1992 during an artist's residency at Queen Mary Hospital in Hanmer. It would be installed on a raised plinth.

If the Committee decides in favour of installing the public artworks its recommendations will need to be considered by the Council before a final decision is made.