The format is simple - a portrait of the human accompanied by a short story in their own unique voice. Each story is one small snapshot of a person's life. They touch on themes we can all relate to – creating connections and building a community of shared experiences through the art of storytelling.
Humans of Christchurch Ōtautahi have taken ten of their favourite stories from a catalogue of nearly 200 and showcased them in this exhibition. Selecting only ten has been one of the hardest things we've done as each story has something different and special to offer. We selected strong visually impactful photos and a mix of experiences.
It was set up to celebrate five years of telling the stories of the humans of Christchurch and to share the stories with a wider audience. They all deserve to be heard.
SOME OF THE HUMANS IN THIS EXHIBITION
Sarah Mankelow shares some of her favourites from the exhibition below.
Yvonne and Carl: We thought this was going to be a story about steampunk, but it ended up being[AC1] a love story. I met them when I out of coffee with friends - they walked into the cafe in all their steampunk finery on their way to an event. They were glorious and I got to chatting and discovered how passionate and creative they were.
Patricia: I drove past her footpath free bookstore while she was out wiping down rain from her shelves.
Pauline and her parakeet were walking down the street in Woolston when spotted by our photographer Neil. We interviewed her at her home.
Some humans we meet through our own networks. Terauhinga is one such person, who I approached specifically to talk about her deafness. Some are nominated by others, via events or our online form. Others we just meet passing in the street.
One of the components of this exhibition has been a call to action to ‘Nominate a Human’ and Louisa Vowles says she is fascinated to hear what connections these might lead to!
There’s been a lively programme of events alongside the exhibition as well. Four community libraries in our network hosted Red Chair Chats - gathering new stories from local humans, and there was a workshop here at Tūranga on writing and photography story telling skills. To wrap the programme up, on International Women’s Day, guests attended an empowering evening with a mix of speakers and performances that celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness against bias and empower us all to action for equity.
The gallery is based on the second floor of Tūranga and delivers around three to four exhibitions a year.
The exhibitions aim to inspire and transform visitors’ interests, knowledge and values through telling local stories that promote community heritage and identity, promote discovery of Christchurch City Libraries’ collections and connect local community with the collections of other institutions and special interest groups to encourage greater global and cultural awareness.
Since Tūranga opened in 2019, the exhibition programme has helped to make, foster and strengthen relationships with organisations, groups and communities both locally and nationally.
Exhibitions share mātauranga Māori, te reo Māori and tikanga in appropriate ways and the exhibitions team works in collaboration with their Ngā Ratonga Māori (Māori Services) colleagues and mana whenua.
The next exhibition opened on March 25 and is about transforming tragedy through creativity. Raising Sakinah | Finding Peace honours the Shuhada, those taken from us on March 15, 2019. In the aftermath of the Mosque shootings, survivors and supporters joined local artist Janneth Gil and collaborators to transform tragedy through creative community. Their responses immortalise their experiences and tributes artistically, inviting viewers to take action towards positive social change.
Read more on the blog or visit the website.
Sarah Mankelow is one of the team behind Humans of Christchurch Ōtautahi, together with Cate Grace, Neil Macbeth and Centuri Chan. Louisa Vowles is Exhibitions Project Manager at Tūranga | Central Library, Christchurch.
Images courtesy Humans of Christchurch Ōtautahi