Surviving Ghosts NZ Earthquake Updated May ’16

May ’16 Update

Worrying news for Canterbury towns:


March ’16 Update

Excellent over view of the redevelopment situation:


March ’16 Update

Sad to report a further quake last Sun followed by 10 or more aftershocks. For a thorough report on the liklehood of another big one: https://theconversation.com/the-earthquakes-keep-on-coming-for-christchurch-54804

April 2015 Update

Frid 24th Another big one today:


December ’14 Update

He’s back!  Watching the video below I was surprised to see the notorious wizard of Chch. So good to see Regent St has been so beautifully restored in fact the city is looking surprisingly colourful and positive.

Update from Christchurch showing the rebuild:


More Quakes 10th Jan ’14

Another year another earthquake:

A shallow 4.1 magnitude earthquake has rattled Christchurch this afternoon. The tremor, at 3.33pm, was centred 20 km west of the city at a depth of 9km. It had a Mercalli Intensity (the strength felt on the surface) of 6, GNS Science said. It followed a magnitude 3.1 earthquake in the same area just after midnight this morning.

August 15 ’13

Aftershocks continue after a 6.2 earthquake hits Marlborough and Wellington – a great deal of minor damage and some injuries.


Update 21st July ’13

A minute-long earthquake has shaken New Zealand, halting trains and damaging Wellington’s parliament building. The 6.5-magnitude tremor was centred 35 miles (57 km) off the coast south of the capital at a depth of 6.3 miles. But while some structural damage and power cuts were reported, officials said there was no risk of a tsunami.

The quake hit at 17:09 (05:09 GMT) and was felt as far north as Auckland.

It smashed windows, knocked stock off shop shelves and burst some water pipes, but there have been no reports of serious casualties.

For more in depth news see:


19th July Aftershocks follow 5.7 Cook Straight Quake

 A 4.4 magnitude quake has shaken central New Zealand this afternoon, hot on the heels of the 5.7 earthquake rattled people in Wellington and Blenheim.

GeoNet reported it was “strong” intensity, 55km west of Levin, at a depth of 6km. The first quake struck at 9.06am and was centred 30km east of Seddon, south of Blenheim, at a depth of 8km. Rated as severe, it turned Wellington office workers white-knuckled as it swayed high-rises in the capital, with buildings also being rocked in Blenheim. The shallow tremor was felt as far away as Christchurch and New Plymouth. In Wellington it was felt as one jolt, gradually picking up in intensity, while those in Blenheim felt two shakes. GeoNet said the fact it struck off the South Island spared the region from its full force, though there were a few reports that it had a damaging intensity. Though it had knocked goods off shelves in Blenheim it was much too small to cause a tsunami, GeoNet said.An offshore earthquake needed to be at least magnitude 7.5 for a tsunami to be considered possible. The quake was preceded by a magnitude-2.9 “foreshock” in the same location 6 minutes before the main shock. By 11am there had been 17 aftershocks in the region, the largest a magnitude 3.7, 30km east of Seddon. Aftershocks were likely to continue for the next 24 hours.

Red Zone returns to nature – from Christchurch Star 22 April 2013

Shocks Continue

After all this time there are still regular aftershocks see this site for daily updates: http://www.christchurchquakemap.co.nz

22nd Feb Anniversary

BBC News Links 23rd February



Feb 23 Early morning 4.1 quake in Christchurch.

There was a magnitude 4.1 earthquake 20km north-east of Christchurch early this morning. The quake hit at 5.21am at a depth of 15km. GNS seismologist Caroline Holden said 19 people had reported having felt the earthquake to GNS as of 6.20am. It was slightly off shore and, at that magnitude, you would have to have been close to it’s centre to have felt it, she said.

“It was quite a gentle earthquake.”Yesterday was the first anniversary of the February 22 earthquake when 185 people lost their lives.

9,988 and counting

Feb. 20th Bev says they are ‘still having earthquakes …we are up to 9,988 now and that was a couple of weeks ago so be more than that now Just when you think they are slowing down to go away then we get another around 4.3 -4.5 just to let us know that mother nature hasn’t finished with us yet.
I feel that we will still get another bit one around the 7 mark yet before it is finished …forever hope not but it is in the back of my mind all the time’.

Darkness at the Heart – Christchurch one year on

From the Guardian 20th Feb

There are new shops built from shipping containers, a theatre and a rugby ground soon to open. But at night, the empty city centre is a dark smudge among the suburban lights

Shops built from shipping containers in Christchurch a year after the earthquake
Shops built from shipping containers in Christchurch’s central business district a year after the devastating earthquake.

Viewed at night from the southern Port Hills, the centre of Christchurch appears as a dark smudge among the suburban lights. Almost a year after the earthquake that killed 185 people in NZ’s second largest city, much of the central business district remains in the “red zone”, cordoned-off and uninhabited but for the work crews that pass through the security gates each day in their hundreds.

This building site enclave is a strange echo of the city that stood there before it was thrust upwards and sideways by the 6.3-magnitude quake just before 1pm on 22 February 2011. Blinker your eyes and parts of the city appear untouched. But look to either side and the picture is of demolition work.

The broken shell of ChristChurch Cathedral, this South Island city’s most famous landmark, stands deconsecrated and uncertain in a central square that grows bigger by the day, as demolition booms peck away at the surrounding buildings.

In empty lots where buildings were bowled over, waist-high weeds grow from the cracks. Billboards are frozen in time, promoting events for March 2011.

So familiar have tremors become in Christchurch that locals are unnervingly good at instantly estimating the magnitude of an earthquake. They have had plenty of practice. Since the 7.1 quake in September 2010 – the first and biggest, which caused no fatalities in part thanks to its arrival in the middle of the night – geologists have measured more than 10,000 earthquakesin the region.

Of those, more than 400 have registered over magnitude 4.0; more than 40 have surpassed 5.0. A cluster of three earthquakes measuring up to 6.0 struck two days before Christmas, causing fresh damage to buildings, including the cathedral, and closing the airport.

Days later, the state geological agency predicted that the area could expect aftershocks to continue for more than two decades, albeit with the likelihood of diminishing severity.

From his sixth-floor office on the edge of the red zone, Roger Sutton, chief executive of the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority, lays out a map of the central city, with buildings shaded in black and grey that have been, or are likely to be, demolished. “You can see it’s pretty extraordinary really,” he says. Sutton, who impressed Cantabrians with his enthusiastic and engaged response to the February earthquake, when he was chief executive of the local power company, took a hefty pay cut to join the government agency. He remains upbeat.

“The level of destruction that we’ve got there is such that we’ve actually got an opportunity to do something really fresh,” he says. “And people are feeling optimistic now. What we had before was just mishmash from historical accident, so to speak. Now we can think about it much more carefully and do something much, much better.”

It is impossible to gauge how many people have left Christchurch for good. Predictions of a mass exodus have proved unfounded. An estimated departure of 10,000 could soon be offset by the arrival of workers, including from Ireland, lured by the appeal of a rebuild costing up to $30bn (£15.5bn).

With unemployment only slightly increased, and encouraging turnover at the port and airport, there is reason to remain positive, Sutton says. “The economy is still going gangbusters here. So despite the fact we have had a massive earthquake, and a large part of the central business district is still shut, all the economic indicators are actually positive.”

He believes 2012 will be a “defining year” for the city and points to the rebirth of Cashel mall’s shops, the newly opened Court Theatre and a soon-to-open 18,000-seat rugby stadium.

Together with the much admired Gap Filler community initiative, which illuminates vacant sites with everything from fun fairs to bicycle-powered cinemas, such projects have clearly encouraged residents.

Shipping containers have become the all-purpose emblem for the city. The Cashel mall has been built from them. They form makeshift braces for celebrated older buildings such as the cathedral. And they worm their way, stacked two-high, beneath the steep cliff on the road out to Sumner, protecting drivers from the ongoing landslides. Above, the frames of luxury homes lurch drunkenly from retreating foundations.

Sumner was among the worst-hit areas a year ago. The seaside village, less than four miles to the east of the epicentre, was pounded by falling rocks and landslides. Water, electricity and sewage systems were cut off for days.

Today, character is returning to the suburb. “I think there’s huge opportunity here,” says Karen Sheridan, who has opened a furniture store comprising two brightly painted shipping containers.”The city’s changed now, there’s more focus out in the suburbs. Sumner was always very much a destination anyway, especially in the weekends and over summer. That’s coming back. Things like this are helping to draw people to the area. But it’s going to take a long time. “People are sick of the earthquakes, the constant aftershocks. But we’ve all learned to get on with it. After February last year, the place was shut. It was like a desert. There was no one around. All the women and children left, and it was basically all full of men.

“I’ve been very, very lucky. Our house wasn’t too badly damaged and I haven’t had to move out. But a lot of my friends are having big trouble with their insurance companies, and struggling to move on. A lot of people are still stuck back in that day in February.” But the mood in Christchurch is hardly one of unified optimism. Disaffection with the pace of recovery, especially in the eastern suburbs where thousands of homes are unsafe, is high.

Months of building frustration found a lightning rod in the recent decision of the city council to award its chief executive a $68,000 (£35,000) pay rise – a decision that in the circumstances “bordered on wilful ignorance”, according to the Press.

Even after he agreed to forgo the increase, a protest calling for his resignation, along with that of the mayor, Bob Parker, the former TV host who had been so lauded in the months after the February disaster, attracted more than 4,000 people a fortnight ago.

Leanne Curtis, spokeswoman for CanCern, a network of residents’ groups, says people need to see firm timetables for the restoration of their homes and community facilities. “Without that you become a very depressed city,” she says. “It’s a very bad place for us to be mentally – you can’t build, innovate, be entrepreneurial. You lose motivation, capacity to get up and help ourselves. You can’t remake a city out of depression.”

Communities in the east, and especially those which still await a government decision on whether their land is viable for rebuilding, are boiling over with frustration – with the insurance companies, with the authorities and with a sense of being overlooked, says Curtis.

While roads have been patched up in most of the city’s suburbs, in parts of the residential red zone bordering the Avon river as it snakes from the CBD to the coast, streets still betray the bumps and fissures of the 2011 earthquake.


Jan 9  2012 A 4.1 magnitude earthquake has hit Christchurch overnight. The quake struck at 3.38am, 20km east of Christchurch, at a depth of 10km. GNS Science said the quake was felt across Canterbury. Earlier, two small earthquakes struck on the Hawkes Bay.

A magnitude 3.4, centred 20km north of Napier at a depth of 30km, struck at 1.48am, and was followed by a magnitude 3.6, centred 30km southeast of Havelock North at a depth of 20km, at 2.06am.

For a positive view of the re building of Christchurch  and comparison with the Napier earthquake of 1931 in  see Roger Sutton’s 14th Jan piece :http://www.starcanterbury.co.nz/news/roger-sutton-recent-aftershocks/1235708/

For predictions of future shocks see Ken Ring (The Moon Man) a NZ writer who has used lunar cycles to predict weather and earthquakes. He terms his predictions “alternative weather” and has authored books about the weather and climate. Ring publishes almanacs each year for New Zealand, Australia and Ireland in which he provides weather predictions for the entire year.

He has recently broken his silence after creating near panic in Canterbury earlier this year with his prediction of a large earthquake.

The fallout from his March prediction led to hate mail and death threats against Ring who denies scaremongering. Dubbed the ‘moon man’, Ring said all he does is predict trends and patterns and he was only trying to be helpful. However he said he accepts people were scared and “I do regret that”. His comments created panic in Canterbury but he told Close Up tonight he doesn’t feel he terrified the people. “I apologise if anybody did take fear out of that situation.” Ring said he doesn’t hold any umbrage against anybody for the backlash because it was a time of great structural strain. He said that he has always maintained in his timeline the quake activity would start to diminish after April and although that is the case and the quakes are starting to move north, it’s not over. “People can start to rebuild their lives, people can move back to Christchurch, but there will be odd big ones still coming.” Ring said the issue is a big area of international research and the largest earthquakes always occur when the moon is closest to earth. There’s a definite pattern to it and the position of moon to earth influences earthquakes and the weather, Ring said. He said the information can be used to examine a trend, apply it to now and then extrapolate forward until “it’s a matter of history”.

See latest up date on his predictions (8/2/12):http://www.starcanterbury.co.nz/news/ken-ring-says-another-big-quake-coming/1083669/

Discounted by scientists , Ring looks forward to a time when he can work with seismologists and geologists. “The more information we can bring to the picture helps everyone.” He said everybody wants information, certainty and predictability.  “It is a very, very old science and the time is coming when we will all work together.”

Update of Red Zone images – Sept. ’11:

see link:http://www.starcanterbury.co.nz/photos/red-zone-tour/8935/

One year on from the September 4 earthquake, Cantabrians are still asking when the aftershocks are going to end. Just this week, three jolts magnitude 4 or larger have shaken the region, following weeks of a relative lull in seismic activity.

In the twelve months since the magnitude 7.1 earthquake, more than 8,000 aftershocks have struck the region. The number is likely to be much higher, with many of the smaller ones going unrecorded.

“Particularly after some of the bigger earthquakes you miss some of the smaller ones just because they are lost in the noise – so you don’t pick them up in the same way,” GNS Science seismologist and geohazard modeller Matt Gerstenberger says.

Casting his mind back twelve months, Dr Gerstenberger says the thousands of aftershocks fit what was expected at the time. “I think it has fallen in line with what we would expect,” he says. “It’s not unexpected given the size of the main one.” However the two destructive magnitude 6.3 tremors, on February 22 and June 15, were less expected.

“More often than not, you would not get two in that size range,” Dr Gerstenberger says. “It is certainly not unexpected that they occurred but it was not the most expected outcome.” Unfortunately another large one cannot be ruled out. There’s a small possibility now for another [magnitude] six, but if you look at the numbers we have it is quite small but we can’t ever rule that out.”

According to GNS latest forecasts, in the next year there is an 82 per cent probability of a quake measuring between 5 and 5.4, a 39 per cent chance of a quake 5.5 to 5.9, a 10 per cent chance of a quake between 6 and 6.4, a 5 per cent chance of a magnitude 6.5 to 6.9 and a 2 per cent chance of a jolt measuring 7 to 7.9.

Dr Gerstenberger says the aftershocks may continue for “decades”, although felt events could be months or years apart. For example, there are still small aftershocks from a magnitude 7.8 quake which struck Buller in 1929.

“As you can see in the last weeks and months, the numbers of events per day are gradually slowing down, [but] it will take many years for it to get back to the level that it was at prior to the occurrence of the [September 4 magnitude 7.1].

“But the felt events will get spaced further apart in time, it will soon be weeks and then months between the felt events.”

One year on, the sequence of earthquakes has given GNS Science a wealth of data, which is being used to help better understand the volatile ground beneath us. GNS Science is also involved in 22 Canterbury rebuild projects.

“We’re focusing a lot on the rebuild – that’s our main focus,” GNS Science communications manager John Callan says. “But in the background the scientists are doing research on all the data which has been captured in the last year. There’s a huge amount of data which will take them quite a while to sift through and analyse. They’ve only done first cut analyse at this stage. But it is a real treasure trove of information in terms of earthquakes. – Paul Harper, Christchurch Star


What a lovely surprise to discover that the enterprising Rural Women of NZ have produced stylish and practical socks to raise money for the earth quake fund. In the Cantabrian colours and made from Merino wool. Fabulous! See http://www.aftersocks.co.uk

After an unusually mild June on  the 27th July Christchurch had the thickest snow fall since August 1992 and the second coldest day since 1918, there has also been a heavier than usual smog blanket hanging over the city which is attributed to the aftermath of the earthquakes.

Hope perhaps? From the NZ Herald 8th July

An American expert believes the city can be cautiously optimistic that the worst of the earthquakes is over. Dr Mark Quigley says that prediction was based on the fact June’s aftershock sequence was less energetic than that which followed the February earthquake which is a fair observation.

However, Dr Quigley doubts it’s all over.

“We want to move on, we want to say this is it, but I think anyone looking at the data and anyone who has compared it to other cities, I think it would be silly to say we’re totally out of the clear,” he told Newstalk ZB.

But Cantabrians are not letting that threat stop them from rebuilding their city, with the largest construction site in the country currently inside the Christchurch Red Zone.

Close to 100 diggers and 80 trucks are working there for 20 different demolition companies.

Christchurch Press: ‘Damaging magnitude 6.0 and 5.5 earthquakes which rocked Christchurch today have not lessened the Government’s resolve to rebuild the shattered city, Prime Minister John Key says.  The magnitude 5.5 quake struck at 1pm, 10 kilometres east of Christchurch at Taylor’s Mistake beach, at a depth of 11 kilometres, and sent people scrambling for cover. It was followed at 2.20pm by a more powerful magnitude 6 quake, centred 10 kilometres southeast of the city and 9km underground.

At least ten people were taken to Christchurch Hospital with injuries due to falling building material after the 1pm quake. Other residents from the devastated city cried in the streets and hugged their children. Police said there were no reports of injuries following the second aftershock today.

The quakes are the latest in a series of dozens of aftershocks to hit Canterbury following the devastating February 22 earthquake, where 182 people died, and a damaging magnitude 7.1 earthquake last September. The February 22 quake measured magnitude 6.3 and left 100,000 homes damaged – 10,000 beyond repair. Christchurch’s CBD was left in ruins, with 900 buildings – many in what has become known as the ‘red zone’ – expected to be demolished.’

There have been over 6,500 shocks altogether – all this in a city where earthquakes were unknown.  Winter temperatures makes the lack of power and water particularly daunting but happily it’s back on now in most areas.

Link to photos taken shortly after quake on 13th June:


Willow Nook – Good News from Christchurch

Other news of a happier nature from Christchurch is that thanks to this blog I have been contacted by  Graeme Edwards from Chch who is living England and was searching for the History of Willow Nook – he has been able to fill in some gaps for me as to the house’s history and has just purchased it with a view to restoring it. What a great positive bit of news!


1870 – Edward ARMSTRONG marries Sarah Elizabeth WILLMER
1885 – Sarah Armstrong arrives in NZ from England (Newport Pagnall?)
1886 – Edward Armstrong arrives in NZ from England
1896 – Parker Westenra – A farmer from Dunsandel purchased 40 hectares
1901 – Edward & Sarah Armstrong buy 4.5 hectares and establish Willow Nook farm.
1963 – Willow Nook sold to Kathleen & John Leversedge
2001 – Willow Nook 100 years old and still owned by John & Kathleen Leversedge
2001 – 2011 – Property sold during this time to Korean Young-Gi Lee who set up the property as a guest house named “Rodem House” for foreign students and this was also linked to the “Christchurch North Apostolic Church”
2011 – Property purchased by Graeme Edwards

Possible leads for further history from people who have been tied with this house are;
George and Ted Armstrong
Kathleen Leversedge, possibly a member of the Christchurch Bridge Club.
Young-Gi Lee
Anyone who stayed at Rodem House

Please contact Graeme or myself if you have any tales or memories of Willow Nook:  weedie_one@hotmail.com
‘I grew up Mundys Road, near Burwood Park which is about a mile from Willow Nook. Purchased my first house when I was 23 which  happened to be in Torlesse Street which is just around the corner from Willow Nook. I remember  going past the house every day on my way to work and always loved it and wanted to own it. Now I have the opportunity to own it and hope to recover as much of the history as possible and restore this beautiful piece of East Christchurch’s history.

I first saw the house for sale in the beginning of Feb 2011 and recognized it straight away. My girlfriend also loves this house and we  are both very keen to come back to Christchurch to set up a family home. My parents went and looked at the house for us and sent over some photos and informed me that it will take a lot of work to restore the property. The next day, the 2nd earthquake hit Christchurch. I informed my parents that if it was still possible to purchase the property then we were both still keen. We had to have an engineers survey and it all still looked good. The insurance Co. and bank agreed and I now own this wonderful piece of history.  My girlfriend and I were not fazed by the amount of work ahead of us.
The house has suffered some damage, both the chimney’s have been knocked off, there are a few surface cracks and some of the night store heaters were damaged. There has also been some damage to the water heater. All in all there seems to be nothing major.’ Graeme Edwards
 Willow Nook – History
An Avonside settler, Parker Westenra, of Dunsandel, bought 40 hectares in 1896. His boundaries were approximately from Woodham Road (Mile Rd), Ngarimu Street (Westenra St), Kerrs Road and Avonside Drive (Rhen River Road). But he did not keep the land intact for long. Five years later, in 1901, Edward & Sarah Armstrong bought 4.5 hectares, the land that established Willow Nook farm. Armstrong was a Methodist lay preacher keen to establish a small farm.

Edward and Sarah Armstrong

Farmer Armstrong’s son, Ted, milked 12-18 cows for a milk round run in conjunction with Willow Nook farm. Delivery, as far afield as  Litchfield Street, was with a two wheeler horse-drawn cart with a small rear-door opening. Milk ladled into billies and jugs was delivered to the door.
Before his homestead was built, Edward Armstrong lived in a sod hut along Avonside Drive (then River Road), about four houses from Retreat Road.
The Armstrong property was in two parts, Sarah’s farmland extended from Ngarimu Street to a couple of houses past Torlesse Street, back to Holland Street, while Edward’s land was an area that in now Avon Park, opposite Kerrs Reach.

An early directory shows Willow Nook homestead was 516 River Road. It is now 690 Avonside drive – a bit confusing because both sides of the river were then called River Road. Now River Road is the north side of the river and Avonside Drive on the opposite bank.
Edward Armstrong died on January 2 1930 in his 94th year. Some of the land had been sold for roading about 1926. The last of the Armstrong’s to live at the homestead was Ella, a schoolteacher.
The house now on 2519 square metres changed ownership from the Armstrong’s the first time in 63 years when the Leversedges bought it in late 1964.
The large villa type home has five bedrooms, two drawing rooms, two bathrooms, two kitchens and a large games room. John added a second storey to the house but in every other way possible has retained original features.

When they bought the property there had been a small dairy out-building, coach-house, and a tall water tank. An old shed is all that now remains. It was quite a showplace in its day with tennis and croquet on the lawn and grounds that extended to the edge of the Avon.

Willow Nook – Armstrong Homestead – Chch




Red Sails (Thames Barge at dusk) – oil on canvas Lee Campbell

The painting above is one of the pieces on offer, a romantic view (30″ x 30″) of one of the last of the Thames Barges which I saw at Maldon in the Essex Estuary some years ago. Magnificent boats! and as my studio is in a boatyard I have learned a great deal about river boats over the years. The ones with the wooden hulls are the best to paint especially when they in dry dock and apparently a metal nail from one will bring good luck (I have 2 and they seem to be working).



Every spring I’m enchanted and seduced by the beauty of the blossoms en route to my studio and foolishly attempt to paint them – these paintings don’t usually survive as I need the canvas for other things, but this year 2 small paintings and one tiny painting (done very quickly from objects at hand) remain as a record of the joys of spring:

Easter – Lee Campbell

Surviving Ghosts

It really has been quite a journey! It began in the summer of 1992 when I was commissioned to do a painting of the Haley’s Comet/Giotto Space craft encounter for the Space Research Lab at the University of Kent in Canterbury by Prof. Strange (yes really) – and having just left college so having no studio, I asked if I could produce the painting on location and so began a series of interesting and challenging locations which included a 12th C Dominican Priory- haunted by a weaving monk, an Age Concern Day Centre (doing quick pencil portraits), an 8′ x 4′ sentry box on Grosvenor Dock, St Saviours Church in Pimlico (also haunted – I would feel a presence wafting past me just as the bells chimed 5 pm), several empty shops and most recently the National Physical Lab in Teddington.

Being alone in quiet  places can make one aware of many atmospheric entities – some more welcoming than others, and they do tend to creep into my paintings from time to time – observant visitors to my studio will see one who resides in a quiet corner of my studio. Being totally committed to my career as an artist and in need of places to work, I have refused to let such presences deter me from working – so rather than allow them to drive me away – I have ’employed’ then as models and included them in my artwork.

Most recently the horrors of the earthquakes and the loss of life in Japan and NZ had me thinking of ‘ghosts’ and lost souls and inspired this painting:

In this painting I’m trying to convey the idea that for many there would be no cherry (or any other kind) blossoms this spring – and tiny lanterns floating on the water would carry the souls to a place of peace.

Transitions – Lee Campbell

Another painting in this reflective vein recently completed, was inspired by Japan and a photo I took last year of a heron:

Vigil – Lee Campbell

Commercial Success

Delighted to hear that the Bridgeman Art Library have allowed one of my spookiest ‘Flurry’ paintings to be used on a French novel with a credit on the outer cover no less. These are based on the Robert Graves poem ‘Outlaws’

Mythical – Lee Campbell

Outlaws   –   Robert Graves

Owls – they whinny down the night;
Bats go zigzag by.
Ambushed in shadow beyond sight
The outlaws lie.

Old gods, tamed to silence, there
In the wet woods they lurk,
Greedy of human stuff to snare
In nets of murk.

Look up, else your eye will drown
In a moving sea of black;
Between the tree-tops, upside down,
Goes the sky-track.

Look up, else your feet will stray
Into that ambuscade
Where spider-like they trap their prey
With webs of shade.

For though creeds whirl away in dust,
Faith dies and men forget,
There aged gods of power and lust
Cling to life yet –

Old gods almost dead, malign,
Starving for unpaid dues:
Incense and fire, salt, blood and wine
And a drumming muse,

Banished to woods and a sickly moon,
Shrunk to mere bogey things,
Who spoke with thunder once at noon
To prostrate kings:

With thunder from an open sky
To warrior, virgin, priest,
Bowing in fear with a dazzled eye
Toward the dread East –

Proud gods, humbled, sunk so low,
Living with ghosts and ghouls,
And ghosts of ghosts and last year’s snow
And dead toadstools.


I recently made contact with the people at St. Saviours church where I was resident artist for 5 months in 1997 when I returned to London from Canterbury. I was living in Dolphin Square and had nowhere to work so asked the caretakers if I could work in the church and to my delight they agreed.

I had the place to myself except on Weds and Sunday mornings and I hired the vestry and ran art classes there. It was quite gloomy though so I positioned myself in the only place where natural light came in. When the sun hit the pews they creaked as the wood expanded – as if someone was sitting down, but the spookiest thing was the waft of cool air that would whoosh past at 5pm every evening so I wrote this poem about it:

Beyond Silence
The clanging of a bell unseen
measures the hours and quarters
but childish squeals from school released
are carried away in a river of traffic
as the fifth hour approaches……
When summoned from the cavernous gloom,
A restless ghost
Or a sunbeam shaft on the well-waxed oak?
The dark pews resting solemn
now creak joyfully
as if welcoming a dusty presence
breathed to life by the warmth and light.
I feel the intruder,
a witness to a private union
and must return to another place
beyond silence.
— Lee Campbell

Within St. Saviours – Graphite drawings – Lee Campbell

St Saviours, Pimlico – oil on paper – Lee Campbell


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