Re-measuring the hoardings in October 2017. Photo by Jade Cavalcante.

Re-measuring the hoardings in October 2017. Photo by Jade Cavalcante.

A note from the Un-Artist and RE:Director.

Tēnā koe! My name is Felicity, and I am the RE:Director of RE:Edit Publishing - and the creator of “Ōtautahi: An Origin Story”.

I feel privileged and honoured to share this work with you, a 20-week full-time project which was commissioned by Ōtākaro Ltd in June 2017 to coincide with the construction of one of their larger anchor projects in the Christchurch Rebuild.

When I moved to Christchurch a few years ago, I saw kindred spirits in the people I met here - people navigating that maze of belonging and connection with a landscape that was continually transforming around them. Trauma takes different forms for different folks, but I believe we are united in our struggles and our need to re-connect. It was this need for re-connection that motivated me to start RE:Edit Publishing, with the intent of creating innovative printed materials that would help people connect creatively to their places and each other, better.

All over the world, disasters are forcing us to re-think the systems we have created as a society - whether the disaster is an earthquake, terrorist attack, or the long and insidious disaster of climate change - or perhaps, even, the alarming speed with which we are hurtling into the 'future' and all of the disruption required if we want that future to be a bright one for everyone. Through RE:Edit, and the process of RE:Editing (as it were), I want to help us face these challenges creatively, playfully, and with a hearty sense of humour - so we can move forward resiliently, together.

I hesitate to call myself an ‘artist’ as I have no formal educational background in any visual art practice or medium, although I have always loved to express myself literally, visually, and musically through writing, drawing, photography, and playing instruments (I’m not a very good singer, though). Despite my lack of skill and talent, these interests have become the foundation on which RE:Edit communicates our causes and messages. There is definitely some freedom to knowing you’re a total novice in what you do - the only way is up, even if that upwards movement is slow.

But there is also a challenge in that, too, which is why this project has been one of the steepest learning curves for me as an un-artist, cultural activist, and RE:Director.

Richard Branson is one of my entrepreneurial role models, and one of my favourite quotes of his is “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!"

It's this kind of the philosophy that got me into RE:Edit in the first place, though I wasn’t aware of it at the time. When I said ‘Yes’ to Ōtākaro, I had no idea how on earth I would go about creating something as big or as in-depth as this has turned out to be. And even then, it is a lot larger and in depth now than it was ever intended to be in the first place. 

I feel that this project is a great example of how our own limitations on what we think we are capable of is the largest limitation we have on what we do. This project is also a clear indicator of the difference it makes when you are surrounded by people who want to help you achieve your goals, even if those goals seem a little complex and far-fetched to others.

I hope that you enjoy “Ōtautahi: An Origin Story”, and recognise it for what it is. Although Ōtākaro were my client, and hired me to do this work, this work comes straight from the heart. I have been very lucky to have met and worked with extraordinary people who have helped me see what is possible when we raise each other up here in Christchurch. I would like this “Origin Story” to invite you to join the conversation with an open heart and open mind - I would like it to become your story, and for you to feel as though you belong in it, too. I would like it to be something that inspires a sense of pride, inclusivity, and hope for the future - but I’m also open to how it might be an instigator for some robust discussions, whether it is taken positively or negatively. 

I hope you enjoy it - but more than that, I hope it inspires you to share your own origin story with us and your community. By interacting with this website, and by visiting the hoardings - even by taking pictures at the ‘interaction points’ along the way - you are creating more of a precedent for people like me - people like us - to have a voice and to tell the stories of this land in the ways we know how.

The more we weave our stories together, the stronger the fabric of our community becomes; where we gather together, extraordinary things happen.

Let's gather together and make it so.