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Leave No Trace -Atami Bath House

Leave No Trace is part of the Christchurch City Council’s Year of the Arts. The trail of miniature architectural facades by scratch-build artist Mike Beer AKA Ghostcat is an ode to Ōtautahi buildings loved and lost… 

Stories abound about nights at Atami Bath House, although often they are preceded by the disclaimer, “someone once told me…”. ‘The Atami’ was a controversial establishment, certainly not a place many would freely admit to frequenting, but with its garish pink exterior and Japonisme, it was well-known even by those who stayed away from the activities inside.

The building’s eye-catching facade was suggestive of the salacious performances inside, which were never explicitly advertised but implied through innuendo on a variety of plain text signs in the window – ‘Luv Tub’, ‘Private Suites’, and ‘Discreet Escorts’.

While the exact goings-on of Atami Bath House have become obscured and tangled by the processes of urban myth-making, its architecturally incongruent place in the history of Ōtautahi’s pre-quake city centre is undeniable.     

Artist Bio: Mike Beer AKA Ghostcat is a New Brighton-based artist whose scratch-built works capture a sense of place, whether recreations of beloved buildings or reminders of the playful potential of urban space. Utilising a wide range of materials and techniques in his creations, Ghostcat’s intricately detailed works invite inspection and ultimately elicit wonder. Ghostcat has created a number of notable commissions and exhibited widely across Aotearoa.

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