Lyttelton is a small port town on the northern side of the Lyttelton Harbour. It has long served as an entry-point to the city of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains beyond the Port Hills. Over the years it has been a town of watersiders, seamen, trades people, artists and musicians, and independent thinkers.
In 1850 the first four ships of the Canterbury Association arrived in the newly-fledged town of Lyttelton bringing new settlers to the region.
At 12.51 pm on 22 February 2011 a 6.3 earthquake rocked the town, causing major damage to the historic buildings of the town.
Little of the old Lyttelton remains, but the images caught by Jae Renaut give a hint of what once was.
In 1982 Jae Renaut was commissioned by the Lyttelton Borough Council to take photos of Lyttelton residential and commercial buildings in order to create a record of the town’s heritage. The resultant series is now of immense heritage value and interest, particularly the commercial buildings, few of which survived the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
Jae has used his original images of Lyttelton’s commercial buildings to create a progressive exhibition of his work, supported by funding from the Creative Communities scheme. A series of billboards will be erected on the empty building locations around the Lyttelton business district. Each building has its place in Lyttelton’s history and the lost built heritage of the town.
In 1982 The Lyttelton Borough decided to commission a photographic record of 75 Lyttelton buildings with a view to gaining heritage protection status for each building.
Local photographer Jae Renaut was tasked with producing a set of archival black and white photographs that included each of the 75 buildings.
All Negatives were shot on large format 5×4 cameras loaded with Agfapan sheet film, and tray developed in Rodinol film developer. Each negative was printed on either Agfa Portriga or Agfa Brovira fiber based photographic paper and tray processed using Agfa Metinol developer. The subsequent Silver gelatine prints were mounted on archival acid free board to insure a permanent record. An additional subset of 10 large colour prints were produced and framed for exhibition purposes. All stages of both the colour and black and white process were carried in the photographers Lyttelton darkroom using the basic analog process that has endured since the dawn of the twentieth century. On completion the black and white print set was stored in light proof boxes made by local instrument maker Peter Stephen who also framed the set of Exhibition colour prints. Both sets are currently stored in the Lyttelton Library. Digital copies of all the monochrome prints are stored in the Christchurch City Libraries archive.
Copyright in the images is held by Jae Renaut.
Christchurch City Libraries has supported Jae’s billboard exhibition with a display of information on the historic buildings of Lyttelton in the Lyttelton Library