Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission Te Komihana Rūwhenua o Waitaha Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission – Te Komihana Rūwhenua o Waitaha

Those who lost relatives and friends in the 22 February earthquake can be assured that there will be a very thorough inquiry into the failure of buildings that resulted in loss of life.
Chair, Justice Mark Cooper

Media Statement

5 October 2011

Canterbury Artist to Exhibit at Quakes Royal Commission Hearings

Highly respected Canterbury artist Wayne Seyb will exhibit eight of his Christchurch earthquake street scenes at the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission hearing room at St Teresa’s church hall on the corner of Puriri Street and Riccarton Road in Riccarton, Christchurch.

Seyb began painting street scenes a month after the February 22 earthquake as a way of managing the stress of the massive seismic event. Most of the artworks are of buildings and street scenes within the Christchurch CBD which relates directly to the Commission’s inquiry.

“I started painting around my local area - Avonside, Linwood and Dallington, carrying canvas, paints and brushes around the streets, working on the spot. From my neighbourhood I branched out and began painting around the edges of the cordon.

“People would watch me paint, sharing stories with me and commenting on my work. I got more feedback on my paintings from people on the street than in all my years of exhibiting. It was a shared experience.”

Seyb got to know police and army personnel who were manning the cordons and were interested in what he was doing, particularly the process of painting oil on canvas. Each painting usually began as a chaos of paint, eventually taking form amongst the dust and debris.

“I was making a record of places before they were gone. Often landmarks I painted became empty spaces a week or so later. Painting became a race against time.”

The exhibition has been organised by the Canterbury Arts and Heritage Trust –an organisation that has worked to support artists in and from the Canterbury region since 1996. Seyb is included in the trust’s website, which was set up in July to document the experiences and responses of significant local artists following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

“Wayne Seyb’s works illustrate the way in which original works of art can connect and support a community by offering a visible expression of shared human experience,” says Trust Chairperson Lorraine North.  

Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission Executive Director Justine Gilliland is pleased Seyb and the Canterbury Arts and Heritage Trust have agreed to help make the hearings venue a more inviting place.

“The hearings are the public face of the Commission’s inquiry and it is important everyone feels welcome. Wayne’s paintings are highly appropriate given the nature of our inquiry and we are pleased to use this opportunity to support the arts community,” says Gilliland.


About Wayne Seyb

Wayne Seyb was born in Temuka, South Canterbury, in 1961. He attended the Otago School of Art in 1980 and set up the Art Attack initiative in 1981. In 1983 he moved to Ravensbourne, a harbour suburb of Dunedin under the dark Otago hills and in 1990 he bought a house at Karitane, a small sea-side village north of Dunedin. He painted the landscape there as a way of getting to know it.

In 1993 he held an exhibition in Munich and made the most of his travels in Europe to further his studies of painting, especially German Expressionism.  In later years he studied paintings at the Stedelijk, Rijkmuseum and Vincent van Gogh Museums in Amsterdam, as well as the Tate and National Gallery in London. In 2004 he travelled to Naples, Pompeii and Florence.

Since 1999 Wayne has lived in central Christchurch with his wife, Allyson, and their two children but also ensures he remains connected to the southern landscape by spending time painting at their Dunedin bach.

Wayne’s vigorous oils, whether applied to painting the landscapes of Canterbury, Otago and Southland, or the street scenes of an earthquake ravaged city, excel in their ability to capture a sense of place and mood. They are often rich with symbolism. Although his preferred medium is oil for its immediacy and intensity, he also works with wood cuts and watercolour. He exhibits regularly throughout New Zealand in dealer and public galleries.

About Canterbury Arts and Heritage Trust

Canterbury Arts and Heritage Trust (CAHT) was incorporated as a charitable organisation in 1996. A main objective of the trust is to support and promote the work of artists in and from the Canterbury region. Its wider cultural objectives are to further community education and participation in the arts, and to facilitate increased arts activity in the Canterbury region. These objectives are achieved through a variety of special projects undertaken annually by the trust in response to specific needs identified within the local arts community.

Over the years the trust has produced numerous public events to the benefit of the wider community as well as local professional artists across many arts disciplines, including music and theatre. For the past decade the trust has worked mainly in the area of fine arts, with events covering a variety of contemporary art practice including sculpture, painting and photography. 

For Further Information

Canterbury Arts and Heritage Trust
Lorraine North
ph + 64 (0)3 365 3829

Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission
Senior Communications Advisor
Robin Major
Ph +64 (0)3 741 3004, +64 (0)21 621 656