During the winter of 1984 my mother, father and I packed an overnight bag and climbed into Dad’s Hillman Hunter. I was five years old and, as far as I could remember, it was the first time we’d ever ventured outside of Blenheim.
Karen Cunningham found out her photo was in the David Cook: Meet Me in the Square exhibition when a resident at Edith Cavell Home and Hospital brought it to her attention during a weekly game of housie.
Since the exhibition David Cook: Meet Me in the Square opened at 209 Tuam Street, the Gallery's Visitor Hosts have spoken to several people who either appear in the photographs themselves or have a personal story to share about a particular photograph in the show.
The first thing you notice, even before the pageboy haircuts and oversized plastic spectacles, is the absence of smiles. The unhappiness in the eyes of the average Cantabrian snapped on these grey, chilly streets seems palpable. Even the Christ's College cadet, cradling a rifle as part of soldiery drill, looks ready to turn the gun on himself. In 1983, the year when David Cook began a project to explore his hometown, a camera as his compass, most locals look distinctly brassed off.
David Cook took more than 6,000 photographs of Ōtautahi Christchurch in the 1980s, recording life in the city from unexpected vantage points. Here, his camera peers through the door of the Anglican cathedral in the city square to a waiting hearse outside. It’s a scene of lost things; some obvious, others overlaid by the city’s subsequent history – the death that prompted the funeral, the (now absent) flow of traffic in Cathedral Square, and the cathedral itself, nearly wiped off the map during the Christchurch earthquake of 2011, and now being rebuilt.