Community Scoop

Heart Strings guitar auction for Christchurch Arts Community

Press Release – Heart Strings

Seven handcrafted guitars commemorating the loss of life and buildings in the Canterbury earthquakes will go on display at Te Papa Museum later this month. (Sunday 12 February 2012).February 8th, 2012

Heart Strings guitar auction in support of the earthquake-ravaged Christchurch Arts Community launches at Te Papa

Seven handcrafted guitars commemorating the loss of life and buildings in the Canterbury earthquakes will go on display at Te Papa Museum later this month. (Sunday 12 February 2012)

The mini-exhibition, which will include a concert by “Stars in their Eyes” winner and Christchurch-based singer Mandy Pickering, marks the opening of on-line bidding for these unique and historic pieces that are being auctioned in aid of the Christchurch arts community which has also been severely impacted by the shakes.

“This project is so meaningful to us, Christchurch is my home town and my family and I have experienced our own personal loss, including the loss of our home, but what I love about this project is that it brings hope and positivity to our city”, says Mandy.

Visitors to Te Papa will be given the opportunity to see, touch and hear the Heart Strings guitars which were created by Mandy’s father-in-law, Bruce Pickering with the help of her husband Christchurch musician, Jason Pickering.

“Each guitar has a unique design that reflects the history of the timber used to craft it, the idea was to take something broken and turn it into something beautiful,” says Bruce Pickering creator of the Heart Strings Guitars.

Each guitar was handcrafted using timber donated from many historic and heritage buildings, such as the Arts Centre and Deans’ family home, which fell in the September 4th earthquake.

“In many cases the timber itself dictated the story and each piece could be given a new life and an entirely new purpose,” says Jason Pickering, who was involved in collecting the timber.

Graduate is a piece of commanding Kauri from the Great Hall of the Arts Centre (formerly the University). Homebush is from the historic Deans’ family home of the same name which was damaged beyond repair. Chester is made from Kauri weatherboard from a Victorian house in Chester Street dating back to the late 1800’s. Epicentre visually references the 7.1 earthquake’s epicenter and includes a selection of historic timbers paying homage to the emergency services.

In sympathy with the age of the timber used, the guitars have been created using a classic single cut-away shape reminiscent of the 1960’s and 70’s. Electronic components enhance the vintage effect. The contours are subtle and the rivers and sudden change in topography in the areas at the centre of the devastation are embodied in the designs.

They are fully operational electric guitars which Bruce and Jason Pickering hope people will see as a metaphor for Christchurch – “that something beautiful, lasting and tangible can rise from something broken and destroyed.”

Epicentre was incorporated into the fourth incarnation and national tour of Fly My Pretties, a sixteen piece band of guitar playing talent including Aaron Tokona (Cairo Knife Fight), Ryan Prebble (The Nudge), Age Pryor (Ukelele Orchestra), Anna Coddington and more.

“It was a real honour to take this beautiful guitar on the road and be part of such an inspirational and original idea”, says Pretties co-founder Barnaby Weir.

The guitars have also been road tested by kiwi musicians Don McGlashin, Jason Kerrison, Victoria Gerling-Butcher and Dave Dobbyn who commented after strumming Chester; “when you play these guitars, it gives meaning to the words ‘if these walls could talk’”.

On-line bidding for the Heart Strings guitars begins Sunday 12th February and concludes with a ‘live auction’ event in Christchurch on February 24th. (Money raised will be held and distributed by Creative New Zealand.)
The Heart Strings auction event will include live entertainment, wine, canapés and a variety of auction items including a weekend for two at the Aitutaki Pacific Resort in the Cook Islands, and a Balloon Flight for two donated by Up Up and Away Balloon Adventures. Tickets to the Heart Strings Guitar Auction are available online from Trade Me.

An eighth guitar was crafted following the February 22nd earthquake. Named ‘Kia Kaha’, it is also built using historical timber from places such as the Time Ball in Lyttleton, but painted white. A scroll listing the names of those who lost their lives has been gently laid to rest within the guitar body. The ‘Kia Kaha’ guitar has been generously donated to Christchurch by Bruce and Jason Pickering and is being featured at an exhibition at the Canterbury Museum later this month.

The Heart Strings collection of guitars will also be celebrated in a live concert by Mandy Pickering and her band in Auckland on 11th March at The Wharf. This concert will provide a further opportunity to donate to the Heart Strings project.


Te Papa Heart Strings Exhibition:
Te Papa, The Marae, Level 4 – Free Entry
Sunday 12th February from 10am – 6pm
Concert by Mandy Pickering featuring the Heart Strings guitars 2:30 – 3:30pm

Heart Strings Live Guitar Auction: Bidding Opens
Sunday 12th February – Friday 24th February on Trade Me
Each of the seven Heart Strings guitars will be available to bid on.
The auctions will finish during the event in Christchurch on the 24th February

Heart Strings Auction Event:
Armstrong Prestige Mercedes Showroom, Christchurch
Friday 24th February from 7:30pm

Auckland Heart Strings Concert:
The Wharf at Northcote Point, Auckland
Sunday 11th March from 3:30pm

For more information on the Te Papa exhibition, the guitar auction or the Heart Strings concert, please visit


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