Photos visual poetry from soul

00:45, Feb 15 2013
David Will
HOPE IMPORTANT: David Will at Southland Hospital this week.

An Omaui man's photographic journey through the diagnosis and treatment of terminal cancer will continue at the City Gallery in Invercargill tonight.

David Will, 50, who was given 12 months to live in January last year, will have his second exhibition in Invercargill - Live, Laugh, Love - after the success of his first show, the 37-piece show Beautiful Moments, which ran at Eastern Southland Gallery in Mandeville during December and January.

Live, Laugh, Love will be a smaller version of the first exhibit, he says, beginning with a photograph taken from the Devil's Staircase of a storm coming in over Cecil's Peak.

The photo, titled Challenges Ahead - taken hours after he was told at Southland Hospital that the rare, aggressive form of cancer he was diagnosed with a month before was incurable - has been one of the top-selling pieces in the past two months.

Accompanying the photograph, Will writes: "For reasons I couldn't explain at the time, I felt that I had to stop and try to capture the beauty I could see surrounding me".

It was also the first professional photograph he had taken for 15 years. During the year, he went on to snap more photos that would touch viewers with their poignancy: a wintry Omaui shot on the beach in the sleepless months while he was undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy; then while on a wild exploration that included Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Los Angeles.


City Gallery curator Kathryn Blomfield says Will's poetic commentary adds a context to the photographs and shows what happens when people take the time to stop and look at the beauty around them.

"Everything he said about the photos really touches your heart. It's a bit of a wakeup call, really. You ask yourself, ‘Why do we wait to see these things until we have a life crisis?'."

In his paragraphs with the photograph Hope, Will describes a breakthrough moment in May 2012, which could encapsulate his outlook from his bed at Southland Hospital this week while his health was stabilised.

He plans to attend his exhibition opening today.

"Walking on the estuary on a cold and rainy evening, the clouds broke enough to let the sun shine through.

"For me, it signifies that no matter the situation, change is constant and nothing is permanent.

"The important thing is to retain hope because, without hope, we can't imagine and, without imagination, we can't create."

Live, Love, Laugh will open at City Gallery in Don St today at 5.30pm. The opening night is for the public, and includes a glass of wine and nibbles. Gold-coin entry.

For the Love of Art: the Best of Central Otago and Otago Artists also opens tonight at City Gallery.

The Southland Times