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Monday, 24 November 2014 08:35 am

Local photographers give art and time for well-loved repair man

WELLINGTON artists have flocked to put their work under the hammer this week for a beloved co-worker and an all-round nice guy.

A group of photographers has been hard at work organising a benefit auction for camera repair technician Phil Jacobs (ab0ve), now seriously ill with cancer, who has worked with local photographers for over 40 years.

Auction organiser James Gilberd says he is thrilled with the support from Wellington’s photographic community of the auction – and that he has received far too many works to auction at Friday’s event.

“The response has been incredibly good – it’s just snowballed,” says Mr Gilberd, who owns Photospace Gallery on Courtenay Place.

“We’ve had a much larger number of donations than expected. We’ve got over 100 lots from maybe around 70 people.

“We won’t be able to auction all of them live, so we’ll only be doing 50 to 60 lots on the night.”

The rest of the works will be put on Trademe following the live auction.

The idea to auction works for Mr Jacobs first came to Mr Gilberd and his fellow photographers after they heard his health had taken a turn for the worst.

Mr Gilberd says he first met Mr Jacobs in 1985 at his shop in the Cubacade when his camera equipment was in need of repair.

“He fixed my camera right away,” he says of Mr Jacobs, whom he describes as “a real people person” and “just a nice guy”.

“Phil always had time for people. He liked to have a good chat and a cup of coffee with his customers.  However busy he was, you were always important. You’d always have his full attention.”

He says now that Mr Jacobs can no longer work, he has left a gap in the photographic community that will be hard to fill.

“He was always fired up with enthusiasm. And he’d hand build his own camera parts – stuff that no-one else could do.

“He was a central character in the photography community, and one of the people [a photographer needs] to function. His personality and skills will be greatly missed.”

Photographer and organiser Mark Beehre (right, with Mr Gilberd) says there has been a huge diversity of works donated, ranging from pieces by emerging artists to high-profile New Zealand photographers, such as Ans Westra.

He also says he was moved by the amount of people who volunteered their time and skills to ensure the auction runs smoothly.

“We have an excellent team of volunteers. People have been very keen to help out,” says Mr Beehre, who has worked with Mr Jacobs since 2002.

“We’ve got someone to do cataloguing, someone helping with accountancy, we’ve got a project manager for the whole thing, and Massey University provided the venue.”

Mr Jacobs’ sister Fran Jacobs says she is “blown away” by the support of the photographic community and by the number of donated works.

“It’s amazing. This is not just a business – these are his friends,” says Ms Jacobs, who will be representing her brother at the auction.

She describes her brother as a tireless worker, with a real passion for his craft.

“He was always in his workshop. It was his haven. He could work on a camera for days.”

The auction will be held tomorrow, Friday November 30, at Te Ara Hihiko, Massey University’s new art and design school building on Tasman St, beginning at 6pm.  The donated works will be on display at Photospace Gallery until 4pm on Thursday November 29.

BIG RANGE: A sample of the works donated, on display at Photospace Gallery

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is a Whitireia journalism student, most passionate about the arts and social justice issues. Sometimes, she even combines the two.
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