Home­less eye’s view of street life

Central Leader - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

Equipped only with dis­pos­able cam­eras and the clothes on his back, a home­less Auck­land man has cap­tured a very dif­fer­ent view of city life.

Rough Sleeper is an ex­hi­bi­tion of pho­tos taken by for­mer home­less man Gary, and will fea­ture at the Auck­land Fes­ti­val of Photography, which opens on Fri­day.

The shots were taken on sim­ple dis­pos­able cam­eras on his daily trav­els around the cen­tral city.

With no pho­to­graphic ex­pe­ri­ence, Gary says he sim­ply started by tak­ing pic­tures of build­ings and the peo­ple.

He says there is mean­ing be­hind each one.

“There’s a story to each photo,” he says.

“Each build­ing has an as­so­ci­a­tion with me.”

For ex­am­ple, his favourite shot of his shadow out­side St Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral sym­bol­ised a turn­ing point for him.

“It showed me some­thing,” he says. “It has a rel­e­vance to my fu­ture and how I want to be seen.”

An­other shot, of a man’s back as he crosses the busy in­ter­sec­tion of Queen St and Vic­to­ria St, is one of the many hu­man ob­ser­va­tions Gary en­joyed mak­ing.

“I would just look at peo­ple, in par­tic­u­lar how they walked.

“This was just a won­der­ful scene of hu­man re­ac­tion and body lan­guage.”

Al­though he has had in­ter­mit­tent pe­ri­ods of work, Gary has been home­less for most of the past 13 years.

He fea­tured on TV3’s 60 Min­utes pro­gramme last year in which he bravely spoke about his home­less life­style and the gam­bling prob­lems that started it.

Now he says he is try­ing to get re­set­tled, liv­ing in a small flat in Mt Eden and vol­un­teer­ing two days a week at the Auck­land City Mis­sion.

He plans to at­tend the open­ing of the fes­ti­val on Fri­day where he’ll see his pho­tos dis­played as a col­lec­tion for the first time.

Now in its sixth year, the Auck­land Fes­ti­val of Photography will fea­ture 64 ex­hi­bi­tions spread through­out the city.

This year’s high­light is the Mag­num Night Lights ex­hi­bi­tion, which will see the work of five pho­tog­ra­phers from the renowned Mag­num Photography Agency pro­jected on to city build­ings.

Fes­ti­val or­gan­iser Ju­lia Durkin says scor­ing the Mag­num ex­hi­bi­tion was a huge coup and says the free fes­ti­val is the per­fect way to ex­pe­ri­ence some of New Zealand’s top artists and cul­ture.

“It will be the per­fect tonic in th­ese cash-strapped times,” she says.

For in­for­ma­tion on the ex­hi­bi­tions at this year’s fes­ti­val, which runs un­til June 21, visit www.photography fes­ti­val.org.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Life’s lens: Gary’s pho­tos of life on the streets are at the Auck­land Fes­ti­val of Photography.

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