So I’ve recently moved from Wellington to Auckland for a new day job. Amongst the many implications this brings, one of the most significant for me personally is the move away from working with this guy, James Gilberd. Those of you reading who know anything about the photography scene in Wellington will know (or should) James as the owner of Photospace galleries on Courtenay Place, the owner of Photocourse and part owner of Courtenay Studios. Yet even mentioning those places simply doesn’t do justice to the impact James has had on photography in Wellington and New Zealand over a very long time.
The gallery was for a really long period the only dedicated photographic gallery in NZ and there’s a long list of Kiwi photographic luminaries who’ve been through the place. Along with that goes an enviable position of knowing and supporting photography and photographers as artists in NZ. James is quite literally part of the pulse that keeps the heart of photography beating in the coolest little capital in the world and I’m very sure will one day prove to be known widely for his significant input into photography in New Zealand.
I started working alongside James tutoring with him on his Photocourse classes around 6yrs ago. For someone at the time struggling in photographic retail, being given an outlet to share my passion for photography in my then new home in NZ has proven to be deeply important. For me now as I look back at becoming an honorary Kiwi, James has been a major part of that journey. He’s allowed me through those courses, the studios and the galleries, and most importantly through constant support, to become part of photography in New Zealand, and by virtue of that allowing something that is integral to me to grow – in many ways he’s helped me become the Kiwi that I am. For that I’m going to be forever in debt.
Those who have met James will know on occasion his ‘calling a spade a spade’ attitude can be at times a little blunt, and as a career photographer his tolerance for fools pretending is low. At times I’ve sat back, especially when just starting out with him, and wondered how to take him. Yet as you get to know him, you realise he’s soft as a brush and has a heart of gold. Most importantly he lives and breathes photography and art. His wonderful wife Denise is an artist herself; their home an enviable bastion of art and creativity. To this day James’ man-cave of steroes, cameras and drum kits is something I hold as a life-goal to achieve. Their dedication to art is purer than most will ever experience and I’ve always found it a constant source of nourishment being around them both.
So moving to Auckland and moving away from working alongside James was a much bigger upheaval than I’d liked to have admitted in person. But as I drove away from his doorstep the last time, I had a lump in my throat. A mentor and friend, and now with a new chapter starting, no longer part of my every week. Journeys continue, sometimes in different directions – I’m just hoping James and my own paths continue to cross.
Miss your beardy grumpy face James. 🙂