185 chairs tribute to ask for council’s help

Christchurch artist Peter Majendie sits in one of the 185 white chairs.

The artist behind the 185 Empty Chairs tribute is working to make it permanent – and creators of The Lord of the Rings movies may help to make it happen.

Artist Peter Majendie is set to speak at a city council committee on Monday, asking for a permanent site for the chairs which remember the 185 people who died in the February 22, 2011, earthquake.

Mr Majendie has conducted an online survey and Latimer Square or the Botanic Gardens are the most popular options.

The chairs are currently sited onthe corner of Madras and Cashel Sts.

Mr Majendie looked at placing them on the CTV site, but Crown company Otakaro Ltd, which owns the site, turned down the proposal in February.

If the city council approves a site, he plans to cast the chairs in metal to make the installation permanent.

Weta Workshop, which built props and sets used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is one of the companies Mr Majendie has approached about doing the metal-casting work.

He said it would cost about $500,000 to set up the permanent installation, which landscaping, metal-casting and white powder-coating the chairs, and installing a ground lighting installation shaped like cracks underneath it.

“I’ve meet a number of people there reflecting on their personal losses. Everyone at some stage of their life will experience that loss, that empty
chair at the table,” he said.

City council committee chairman Phil Clearwater said he and the other city councillors were looking forward to hearing Mr Majendie, and were open to finding a permanent

He said staff would have to consider all the options and come back with a report before a decision would be made.