Monday, June 25, 2012
ATHFIELD ARCHITECTS launch report from publisher Sam Elworthy
Saturday night’s launch of Julia Gatley’s ATHFIELD ARCHITECTS at City Gallery, Wellington was the biggest book launch I’ve been to in five years back in New Zealand.
It started with an overflowing auditorium to hear Sir Miles Warren, Ian Athfield and Julia Gatley in conversation. This was a burlesque show from Christchurch’s nascent architecture scene of the 1960s: Miles Warren floating in a bath down the Avon river as they pull down 65 Cambridge Tce; Ian Athfield, ‘in his Edwardian phase’, in a rough Christchurch pub having his top hat filled with beer and put on his head; Athfield on copulating couples in Civic Square, Wellington ‘it happens in Christchurch, Miles, just behind fences.’ And among it all we heard about architectural vision shaping the spaces we live in, about the Christchurch earthquake and the bungling of bureaucrats, about 80s exuberance and modernist restraint.
Out in the foyer, we had a few hundred thirsty people and quite a few more pushing in at the door. So it was on to speeches: an introduction by Lily Hacking from City Gallery Wellington, publisher Sam Elworthy talking about learning from Athfield to take risks and publish the book, author Julia Gatley thanking Athfield for letting her in to the archives to write her own take on the work, and Ian Athfield reaching out to colleagues, family and friends who had worked with him for 45 years.
Ian Athfield and Julia Gatley signed huge piles of books, people headed upstairs to see the fascinating ATHFIELD ARCHITECTS exhibition, and we all headed home tired and happy.
There are more photos on the City Gallery's facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/CityGalleryWellington