Thursday, February 7, 2013

John Fields RIP

Helvi, Mt Eden Auckland, 1970

My friend and photographer John Fields died this Monday last at his home in Australia, Guyra NSW. I'd first met John here in Auckland sometime in the 60's. It was in the photobook crowded living room of PhotoForum founder John Turner where photo buzz flowed as easily as the wine. John Fields struck me as an affable, easy going sort of man, with a razor sharp refined eye, yet modest in talk of his achievements. I admired him as both a man and a photographer of depth. He opened my eyes to the limitless possibilities of photography.

John Fields  was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1938. He arrived here in Auckland in 1966 to take up a position at the University of Auckland’s medical school.
Undaunted by the cultural vacuum that prevailed at the time, John photographed prodigiously, working in both 35mm and 5x7 and 10x8 view camera formats.  Through his open-hearted generosity John did much to raise the standards of photography in New Zealand. In 1973 his collaboration with the architectural historian John Stacpoole, Victorian Auckland, was published and is a major achievement.
John moved to Sydney, New South Wales, where he taught workshops at the Australian Centre for Photography, then became Chief Photographer at the Australian Museum. In 1987, living in Armidale, NSW, he became Photographer-in-Charge at the Media Resources Unit of the University of New England.

John was a great traveler. Back and forth from Australia. Often back to Thames in the Coromandel, a place he loved where in the 60's and 70's he'd photographed the town and its gold mining past. More often than not John would end up at my place with a bottle or two of head ripping Aussie red and banter about our work and the photoworld.
John was a lively letter writer too. In his last letter to me dated January 3, he talked of his pleasant family Christmas, moments of madness and his plans for 2013.

His inscription to me in his Victorian Auckland book reads, To Harvey, One who knows and understands the sense of journey. In truth, it was John who understood the sense of journey more than most. John my friend, wherever you are, you will be missed.

Father and daughter, East Cape, 1969

Sawyer House, Brown Street, East Side, Thames, 1973

133 Dominion Road, Auckland, 1974

John Allen, Rangitoto, Auckland, 1974


Anonymous said...

Thank you for acknowledging John, he was a close friend, mentor and a good fellow.

He will be missed greatly.

Simon Scott

Harvey's Blog said...

Thanks Simon for adding your comment, he will indeed be missed.

Michael Sharkey said...

Thanks Harvey— It's hard to imagine Armidale (NSW) and a world in general without John. And as I walk around Auckland — and especially sites that he photographed, I can't help being grateful for what he has saved despite the wrecker's ball. It's wonderful to have his images - they are redolent of everything I admire about his work—the eye for the unusual in the everyday, the wonderfully odd conjunctions that make us reconsider what we see. An ongoing visual education!
Michael Sharkey

Harvey's Blog said...

And thank you Michael, I too am grateful!

Charles L said...

Introducuing myself to you as Charles L. Fields ,John's brother in the USA. I was writing the last chapter in my travel mystery when news came of John's passing. The book included a section where the protagonist visits his brother in Australia. I sent John an excert but alas he was gone. The book The Molina Curse will be deicated to him with the John Turner write up.
He wasmore than a brother.

Julian Ward said...

Thanks for this Harvey. John was also an influence on me especially seeing his work in the small book: Photography a Visual Dialect, Ten NZ Photographers 1971. At the time I was a youngster looking for direction and this book helped to open my eyes and realise the power of photographs. Many of his images are my favourites to this day. I met him a few years ago when he spent time in Wellington (new book and exhibition) and he was such an interesting man to wine and dine with. Cheers Julian Ward. (PS, I still have the book which was $1)

Anonymous said...

I only met John recently, but he was a great friend and correspondant, and will remain an inspiration for my photography.He will be sadly missed.
John Studholme, Tasmania