Contest #514 – 185 Empty Chairs Memorial, Christchurch, New Zealand

185 empty white chairs- remembering Christchurch earthquake.jpg
By Bernard Spragg. NZ –, CC0, Link

On 22 February 2011, Christchurch was hit with a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The area was devastated and 185 people were killed.

One year later, a local artist, Peter Majendie arranged 185 empty chairs, painted white, on the grounds of a demolished church. He was inspired by similar memorials in Oklahoma City and New York City, as well as paintings by Van Gogh. Majendie intended for the memorial to be temporary, perhaps only lasting a few weeks, but the residents of Christchurch had other thoughts. The site resonated with the survivors, giving them a place of quiet reflection.

In October 2012, 8 months after the installation, the church requested that the memorial be moved so that they could rebuild. Majendie acquired a new location near the site of another demolished church, which is where the chairs are now. The city is planning a major build out of the area, including a new soccer stadium, so it will need to be moved yet again, and a foundation that Majendie formed is seeking a permanent location.

For a nice blog article on the memorial written right after it was first installed (in the original location), consult Adrienne Rewi’s Blog

Those who had a seat before the hint included:

  • hhgygy
  • David Kozina
  • mehmet durmus
  • Glenmorren
  • Garfield
  • Ashwini Agrawal
  • Eloy Cano
  • Phil Ower
  • Lighthouse
  • Andy McConnell

and those who had to travel to the new location (after the hint):

  • Gillian B
  • Blaze
  • Tuxedo Jones
  • rob de wolff