Searching for an anonymous star-crossed lover

11 October 2018

The Arts Centre of Christchurch, Te Matatiki Toi Ora, is seeking to find the anonymous star-crossed lover whose declaration has been left for years in a 122-year-old astronomical observatory.

Workers deconstructing the attic of the Arts Centre’s earthquake-damaged Observatory Tower building on Wednesday discovered the photo of a woman with a note scrawled on the back, alongside two Polaroid images of women breastfeeding infants, an old tobacco tin, an old drawing pin box, and a mummified bird.

The black and white photo is a close-up of a contemplative woman’s face. She has dark hair and possibly hazel eyes. The photo appears to have been printed in December 2006.

The note on the back of the photo says: “This is a picture of the girl I love. Since we both love this country I leave it here and when everything works fine with us both might pick it up and I’ll ask her to marry me. Please leave the picture here! Thanks.”

Arts Centre chief executive Philip Aldridge said staff would love to reunite the author of the note, who seemed to be from overseas, with their photograph.

“If we’re able to return the photo to them, we’ll tell them we’re sorry we had to remove it, but I’m sure they’ll understand why,” he said.

“We really hope the author and their girlfriend had a happy ending too, even though the photo hasn’t yet been collected.”

Prior to the February 2011 earthquake, the tower was accessible by only University of Canterbury staff, who took people up there during astronomy tours. It has been closed since due to significant damage and will cost the independent charitable trust $10 million to rebuild.

Aldridge said the find was among one of the more unique ones at the Arts Centre, where workers had unearthed a large variety of items since the $290 million restoration programme began in 2012.

Other more notable items found include a large rat skeleton, a terse letter from a man to his ex-wife from the 1970s, a hooded seal jaw, and a boxing glove.

For more information, please contact:
Jo Gilbert
Communications and engagement manager
The Arts Centre
Christchurch, New Zealand
+64 27 609 7973
+64 3 364 9725