Cosy Container Love in Christchurch, New Zealand
By Christine Reitze, organiser of Container Love
Christchurch residents have created a giant ‘Container Cosy’ to brighten up the shipping containers they found in their neighbourhoods after the Christchurch quakes. Pieces of the Cosy were donated from people all over the world.
I am originally from Frankfurt in Germany and always wanted to live by the sea. That’s why Sumner has been my home for about 10 years now and I love it!
I work in a beautiful clothing and design shop in Sumner and also have a wee business creating bags and accessories out of upcycled materials called retreasured.
The shipping containers came to live with us after June’s 2011 aftershock and I thought right away how daunting and unpleasant they look and that we have to “decorate” them. I had a few ideas but in the end decided on the Container Cosy because I wanted the art to be a community project so that people can contribute and feel they can make a change to people’s lives after the earthquake (cheer them up).
I also felt it is about time for people to make use of public space. And of course my motivation was to make people smile once they saw the cosy. Many Christchurch knitters and crocheters also told me that making the square (doing craft) helped them to stay more grounded in these stressful times.
I started the Container Love project in late August by setting up a Facebook page and distributing Posters all over Christchurch (mainly libraries craft and wool shops) I asked people to knit or crochet a 30cm by 30cm square out of there left over wool (because crafty people always have some bits and pieces of wool left) and send it to me. People also donated scrap wool and a wool company gave me a big bag with wool they could not sell.
I also got asked to do two radio interviews and had an article in a local paper, which really helped to get the project moving, because I needed 840 squares! Just to connect people a bit, I also organised two knit ins which were real fun.
People from mainly New Zealand but also Germany (big parcel with 100 squares), Sweden, Canada, Australia, Iceland and the UK had sent me their beautiful squares (not always 30cm by 30cm though) Once I reached the required amount I let people on Facebook know and started to lay them out in panels on the floor to get a nice design and then sew them together on my sewing machine. First the individual panels and then the whole lot!
The Container Cosy needed a wooden construction made out of slats underneath it for which a organised a small donation campaign to collect $ 500 to use for material cost and installation (had 2 builders helping me). So the whole project started in end of August and the Cosy was up on the 8th of May for the Sumner Street Party.
I saw so many male, female of all ages and of course children at the party going up to the Cosy to touch it, looking at the individual squares and smile, so I am happy that
with the help of so many people we have achieved what we wanted to do.
I have a few ideas for the future (and about 50 squares left) but definitely not as big and time intense as the cosy because that was like a part time job! Also in the future I would like to see the Container Cosy in a museum together with other earthquake related art like in the Canterbury museum or Te Papa.