Backwater is a work that explores Bannan’s personal connection to the Christchurch Town Hall. Opened in 1972 and designed by architects Sir Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney, there has been significant tension and frustration surrounding the potential demolition or renovation of this landmark building since it was damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes. Bannan beautifully captures her feelings about the building on film and in a series of ceramics. Created out of rubble left behind from the demolition of earthquake damaged Brutalist buildings, Bannan has made a series of earthenware pots. Debris traditionally left and forgotten has been fired into the ceramics. Made with delicate and gestural pinches – Bannan’s fingerprints are visible in the ceramics’ clay – the debris is elevated to the status of an art object.
The importance of Modernist history is explored and experienced in Bannan’s film piece. She pans the camera across and around the remnants of the Town Hall as a vital social building. Through saving, reusing and manipulating original and heavy material, Bannan creates a real tension in her work: a tense frustration about the future of the Town Hall, and a sense of frustration about the whole experience of the rebuild of Christchurch.