12.51pm today marks the second anniversary of the 6.3 earthquake that caused severe damage and resulted in the loss of 185 lives in Christchurch and its suburbs, with many more injured and displaced. Two years on the citizens of Canterbury are still struggling to rebuild their city and lives. While stories of frustrations with bureaucracy make the news daily, stories of acts of kindness and generosity also thankfully abound.
Tomorrow at the Dowse Art Museum you can take part in a small act of kindness, by participating in a sewing bee organised by Sarah Read, a jeweller ‘attracted to projects with an element of collaboration, third-party participation or social practice’. As she says:
‘I am currently exploring magical thinking, radical gratitude and the sense of connectedness that makes all the difference when life is difficult.’
The bee is a continuation of a project that Sarah launched in 2012 entitled This Too Shall Pass in order to raise funds to support Caroline Billing’s contemporary jewellery gallery, The National. Sarah was inspired by the fact that although Caroline had lost her business premises in the 22 February 2011 earthquake, she continued to showcase jewellery in Christchurch via other means, such as when she took jewellery to the streets with Host A Brooch. (This project is documented in Te Papa’s collection as part of our collection around entrepreneurial and creative responses to disaster.)
Wanting to put her ‘heart and soul… to help the regeneration of Christchurch. If Christchurch loses places like The National, there won’t be a beating heart’, Sarah created a participatory project. She invited well-wishers to donate their time to assembling ribbons which bore the legend ‘This too will pass’. In selecting the simple form of the ribbon, Sarah drew on an established history of ribbons being used as potent symbols of hope and support, from tying a yellow ribbon to an oak tree to the AIDS and Breast Cancer ribbons.
Once assembled, the ribbons were distributed to galleries who agreed to waive their commission fees, and gifted on by purchasers to anyone they know who could need a little extra help. The ribbons are intended to be worn inside clothing where they had protective and healing qualities for the wearer.
An anonymous donor kindly gifted a set of these ribbons to Te Papa last year. Each is attached to an image of the quake devastated city.
You are invited to Pass It On and create more ribbon pins tomorrow at The Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt anytime between 10am and 4pm. While the sheer scale of the Canterbury aftermath is daunting, we should never forget that there are many small things we can do as individuals to make a difference, if not to the whole city, to a friend, colleague or stranger’s day through a little act of kindness.