Artists wants 185 empty chairs quake memorial to remain

185 white chair Christchurch quake art pete majendie
White chair artwork by artist Pete Majendie

Ahead of the sixth anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake, the artist of the well-known memorial '185 White Chairs', is seeking funding and support to make the fixture permanent. 

The art is installed at the corner of Cashel and Madras Streets and the individuality of every chair pays tribute to the uniqueness of each victim of the February 2011 quake.

Artist Pete Majendie launched a new website on Tuesday, the first step in his plan for action. 

He told Newshub he would also be starting a Givealittle page to help fundraise.

Pete Majendie artwork white chairs
Artist Pete Majendie (Adrienne Rewi)

The cost of moving the chairs is large and would only happen through the help of public fundraising, he said. 

Majendie says the symbolic chair art has been widely appreciated by Cantabrians and also many tourists, who have come to the fixture to deal with losing their loved ones in other natural disasters. 

Christchurch 185 white chairs
The 185 white chairs pay tribute to the victims of the February 22, 2011, earthquake. (File)

"It's always been very positive. The public has embraced it." 

Majendie has been working towards his art to become permanent for two years, submitting a proposal with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

"Because the artwork is currently on government-owned land, the site the chairs are on is for a new sports stadium," he says.

He hopes hoping the public will get behind him and would like the chairs to be moved to the site of the old CTV building where 115 people died.  

"We tried to be sensitive towards victims' families and understand what their feelings were towards the chairs being moved," Majendie says.

"I know many of the families who are very supportive." 

In the meantime, the chairs are expected to be repaired and repainted in time for the sixth anniversary of the earthquake.