Queenstown had only just been given its name and gold only just discovered in the Wakatipu Basin three years earlier when Darryl Gilbert’s Great Grandfather, Jock Adamson, was born in the shanty of a town it was, during 1865. By the time Jock was 20, he had shifted to the West Coast, becoming the mailman on the route between Ross and Gillespies Beach near Fox Glacier. He carried both mail and passengers on a spring wagon and packhorse, negotiating the rough early tracks, unbridged rivers and sea beaches to take civilisation into some of the most remote communities in South Westland. The trip was hazardous, with a horse once being lost over a bluff and on another occasion mailbags were swept out to sea. Eventually he upgraded to a stagecoach and a team of horses once the track was improved, with reports of him breaking into song while riding along.
Todays road trips around the South Island are a different kettle of fish. With his Great Grandfather in mind and in considerably more comfort, Darryl today traverses the highways and gravel roads and walking tracks of the place he loves, led by curiosity and wonderment.
"The South Island, has been my home nearly all my life. It is the place I know best and it holds the beginnings of my history. When I travel to photograph, I see in the landscape the memories that it holds, the time that has passed and the changes that have taken place. I sense the footprints of the early Polynesians as they clambered along the coastlines and sheltered in coastal caves. I sense the dreams of the early pioneers in the remnants of old jetties, the toil of those that built the irrigation structures and the joy of the early explorers finding their way into the wilderness. I also sense the ongoing journey of the large rock sitting on the coastline being lashed by the ocean."
Some of the places Darryl has lived in the South Island include Christchurch, Hari Hari in South Westland, Twizel in the Mackenzie Basin, Cromwell in Central Otago, Blenheim in Marlbough, Marihau on the boundary of the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park and more recently has been spending time in Arrowtown located in the Wakatipu Basin.
2013 Paramount Art Award winner, Nelson Art Expo.
2012 'Trees of Hagley Park' Ellerslie International Flower Show.
2011 'The Not so Quiet Earth' (Group) The Mike Glover Studio, Lincoln.
2010 'Three Views' (Group) Bryce Gallery, Christchurch.
2009 Anthony Harper Art Awards, Finalist Exhibition, COCA Gallery, Christchurch.
2008 'stART' group exhibition, Mckenzie and Willis, Christchurch.
2008 'FROM WHERE I STAND' Gallery O, The Arts Centre, Christchurch.
2007 Anthony Harper Art Awards, Finalist Exhibition, COCA Gallery, Christchurch.
2006 Anthony Harper Art Awards, Finalist Exhibition. COCA Gallery, Christchurch.
2006 'PLACES I KNOW' Gallery O, The Arts Centre, Christchurch.
"These classically composed photographs reveal our familiar environment as quiet and emptied of activity. The stillness of these works engenders a contemplative response in the viewer; the effect is both mysterious and calming."
High Street Project
"Gilbert’s photographs are remarkable in their capacity to move between subtle, sublime narratives and purely abstract images."
"Darryl’s South Island series of photographs generate a quiet, still, contemplative air with a slight hint of nostalgia ... his images are superbly rendered compositions, where placement of subject within the picture frame, creates the perfect tension – be it a night or day scene. Darryl’s highly skilled and observant eye carefully records the subject so the viewer can relax and quietly contemplate the subtleties of his finely tuned results."
Campbell Grant Gallery
A lot of people ask me whether my images are ‘manipulated’ and that always causes me some confusion, firstly because I’m not really sure what they mean by ‘manipulated’ and secondly because I consider my work to belong in the realm of expressive art, so therefore, I don’t know why anyone cares?
So I have decided to write a piece here to outline my approach to creating my images.
When most people are about to make a photograph, they probably forget a very important aspect to the process and because of that they end up simply recording the subject as the camera sees it. That aspect that I’m talking about, is of course, the input from the photographer, or in this case me. I feel an image only starts to become successful when I have shown not only the subject, but my response to that subject. I want to try and express my respect for the environment that is in front of me. Standing in solitude, I want to capture the calmness and the grandeur and I want to say it in the most simplistic way. I also want to take my time, spend some time and by doing so, become another element in the scene.
It’s not always easy but it sure helps if you know what moves you! What subject gets you emotional, fired up and excited? You can then apply that emotion, that passion into the multitude of options available to you, the photographer, both before making the photograph and after.
Some of the initial choices I make at the time of making a photograph are around how to compose the scene. Where do I stand? What do I choose to have within the frame? What lighting will work (what time of day should I be there?) The choice of lens; do I get down low for a particular angle? What are my camera settings? What do I require in terms of depth of field? These are all subjective decisions, but the more decisions that are made by you, then the more the image will say about you.
So what now? Like I said above, for me, the end goal is a photographic print that embraces not just the subject, but what I want to say about the subject. By having access to a traditional darkroom or digital tools provides further opportunities to have input from the photographer. The great American photographer Ansel Adams is quoted as saying about his printing process “dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships” (dodging and burning being photographic terms for darkening or to lighten specific areas on an image during the printing process). In other words the printing process allowed Adams further ability to interpret the negative and create a print of his vision.
These are the questions that I ask when I’m preparing the image to print; what is important in the scene and what is not? What are the elements that I want to emphasis and those that distract? By using the same tools as Adams but in a digital workflow (yes I print digitally) dodging and burning allows me to balance and create some order between elements that will focus the attention of the viewer on areas I consider to be significant. The end result is a print that says, this is how I see this subject, this is my interpretation/response, and this is my piece of art.
Quotes About Place
My images are about ‘Place’. It’s what I try to photograph. I’m fascinated by the feelings that are generated by the physical or emotional attachment that we have to specific places. What is it about these places that impact so greatly upon us? Below is a collection of quotes and descriptions of place, by a variety of authors whom I enjoy.