In our current issue, Christchurch art teacher and model maker Richard Gardiner tells us how he helps people remember their earthquake-damaged homes by building beautiful models of them. Photographer Stephen Goodenough visited Richard's studio to see some of his work under construction, so we wanted to share some unpublished shots here, along with our Q+A with Richard.

Richard Gardiner in his studio

HOME How did your Scaled Down project began?
RICHARD GARDINER Having taught art for a number of years, with design as my specialist subject, I've always had a keen interest in design and architecture, particularly domestic architecture in New Zealand. A few years ago, I made a model of our house, a 1927 one-and-a-half storey bungalow, and once friends and colleagues had seen it, a number wanted one of their own. as retirement loomed and demand increased, I set up Scaled down and left teaching for model-making.

Lyttelton Police Station model

Have you been busier since the Christchurch earthquakes? 
Soon after the major quake in February, I met someone whose house - a lovely Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired design in Cranner Square - was ruined beyond repair, and he ordered a model to be made before demolition took place. Since then, there's been a fairly steady stream of people wanting something tangible as a memory of the place in which they invested so much of their lives.


 A model of a home in Cashmere, now under repair.

How do you thinks it helps people to have a model of a home they might have lost?
Nothing can replace a home lost suddenly and violently like that. Our homes reflect us and the lives we live in them - they carry our stamp on them and they contain memories, accumulated over decades. but if anything, a model, with the features we knew well, like the downpipes, the front door, the gas bottles and the cat flap, does provide a tangible reminder. It's something we can touch and relate to. a well-made model is also a piece of fine craftsmanship, which can be appreciated on another level too.



What's it like living in Christchurch now? do you lament the loss of so many heritage buildings?
I was in the city today and to be honest, it's increasingly difficult to find your way in some areas because the gaps outnumber the buildings. The earthquakes were sudden, unannounced and deadly, but the loss of buildings seems to be a more staggered and gradual affair. The machines 'nibble' their way more deeply into the city each week, so despite the sad loss of many architectural icons, we are perhaps becoming dulled by it all.

You can see more images of Richard's work and contact him through his website at the link here


 
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