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Guard house mural reflects and protects Godley Head's military history


Last updated 05:00, January 8 2018

One woman's bid to beat taggers at their own game has spawned further efforts to revive Godley Head's military history with art.
New Brighton artist Bridget Allen first tried to tackle the "mindless tagging" of an old Guard House on Christchurch's Summit Rd by covering it in woodblock prints, her primary medium, in 2016.
When they didn't hold up to the weather, she started planning a mural.

"I just asked council if I could do something over the tagging and they said 'yes, as long as it references the history of the place'," Allen said.

The painting is based on a historic photograph, provided by the Godley Head Historic Trust, of a member of the Women's Auxiliary Army Corp peering down the telescope of a depression position finder, a machine that calculated where gun shells should land and transmitted that information to the guns' operators.

The photo dates back to the early 1940s when Godley Head transformed from "open country and a lighthouse" to a World War II coastal defence base occupied by hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people, trust chair Peter Wilkins said.
Wilkins, a former military man and historian, had been disappointed to see gun emplacements and soldiers' quarters become targets of vandalism in recent years.
He believed good graffiti art would be respected by taggers and left alone.

"We hoped, rather than get heavy-handed, to adapt to it. We have to move with the time, which is quite hard when you're as old as I am," the 75 year old said.

"[Allen] is going to make an effort to show people what it can look like, what it represents, and a damn good example for future developments."
Allen hoped to "build people's stories of the area" from February, when she would establish a print-making space in the Sergeants Nest, a former dining hall, and the Godley Head Historic Trust was now turning the defence battery's radar room into a small museum.

Allen hopes to establish a print making studio in the Sergeants Nest at Godley Head in February.

Wilkins said the art was "a link between reality and imagination" and although the Summit Rd work might not be everyone's cup of tea, it helped keep history alive.
"We want to get people to understand that their grandparents and great-grandparents survived there in a very worrying era.
"If you can tell people that, the implications and the intentions, then even the most cellphone-tapping youth might get a link with that area."
 - Stuff


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