David Cook went to art school in the 1980s with the goal of becoming a painter or designer, however, once he got a camera in his hand a love for photography blossomed.
Cook, whose exhibition Jellicoe & Bledisloe: Hamilton in the 90s is now open at Taupō Museum, says he was reluctant to use a camera at first but learned to love the way it gave him “permission to explore the world and understand how communities work”.
The photos in the exhibition centre on his time living in Hamilton East in the 1990s. He was drawn to the colourful, creative, and chaotic lives of his neighbours. With camera in hand, he created an intimate documentary of a state housing suburb in the 90s, before gentrification set in.
“In the world of photography, it’s easy to be captivated by the sensational, spectacular, and picturesque,” Cook says.
“But I’m convinced that the ordinary places, like the places where we live, are where you find the most fascinating stories. Everyone has a story to tell – you just need to slow down, look, and listen.”
He hopes the exhibition will encourage people to reflect on what makes a good community.
“You can get in close and see the wallpaper of everyday life. There’s a lot of detail in the show – front yard mechanics, Georgie cooking a roast meal, kids playing on the street.
“I’m proud of the enormous banner prints that take a detailed look at everything in the Lennons’ living room. You can spend a long time searching those images, I still keep on discovering new things in those photographs. They are like time capsules from the 90s.”
To complement the exhibition, Taupō Museum is running a My Neighbourhood Photo Competition for young people across the rohe who are encouraged to photograph the everyday things that make their neighbourhood the place they love. Entries will be displayed at the museum alongside the exhibition.