Dr Peter Gilderdale

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Senior Lecturer - Communication Design

Phone: +64 9 921 9999 ext 8017

Email: Peter.Gilderdale@aut.ac.nz

Physical Address:
WE525 – WE Building, Level 5, 21 St Paul Street, Auckland


  • PhD, Auckland University of Technology
  • MA (First Class Hons), University of Auckland.
  • Diploma in Teaching, Auckland Teachers College    

Memberships and Affiliations:

  • MDINZ (Professional Member of the Designers Institute of New Zealand). 


Peter has held a number of roles at AUT over a 30 year period. Since 2017 he has been the School of Art and Design’s Associate Head of School (Research and Innovation), and was previously head of the Communication Design department, a role he held for 15 years. Apart from his supervising roles, he primarily teaches design theory on the Communication Design major.

Teaching Areas:

Peter teaches across the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, focusing particularly on design history, theory and practice as well as calligraphy. He received AUT’s ‘distinguished teaching award’ in 2006.

Research Areas:

  • Edwardian postcards and greeting cards
  • Nineteenth century celebratory culture
  • History of emotions
  • The relationship of popular culture and business history
  • Letterform design and calligraphy.
  • The history of calligraphy, with particular emphasis on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the development of the so-called ‘copperplate’ lettering.
  • Pen holds and the haptic – the way holding a pen or brush affects the resulting mark making.

Research Summary:

Peter has twin research practices, one visual and one historical. He has degrees across several areas of history, with his research having developed from early interests in Ancient Egyptian art and Impressionism via the writing, design and use of letterforms to now reside principally in areas that relate to the design and usage of early twentieth century postcards. He has particularly focused on greetings postcards that were intended for use between emigrants and their families at ‘home.’ Peter has worked professionally as a calligrapher in Denmark and New Zealand, and his calligraphic work has been recognized internationally.

Current Research Projects:

  • Largescale environmental calligraphy/poetry project with Paul White.
  • Celebratory design – a concept isolated during my PhD work and which I am currently expanding on.


Selected publications
  • Gilderdale, P. “Summer scenes and flowers: The beginnings of the New Zealand Christmas card, 1880-1882”, Back Story, 3, 2017: pp.5-25.
  • Gilderdale, P. Politics and pop culture: Why New Zealanders embraced ‘hands across the sea’Paper Presented at the New Zealand History Association Conference, Auckland University, November 30 2017.
  • Gilderdale, P. Stained by History: The Mixed Genealogy of the Gothic Letterform. Paper presented at “Gothic Afterlives: Mutations, Histories and Returns,” the Conference of the Gothic Association of New Zealand and Australia, AUT, January 23.
  • Gilderdale, P. “Stoic and Sentimental: The Emotional Work of the Edwardian Greetings Postcard.” Journal of New Zealand Studies, 22: pp.2-18.
  • Gilderdale, P. Creating a Craze: Picture Postcard Designing in New Zealand, 1897-1914. Paper presented at the 7th Annual POPCAANZ Conference, University of Sydney, June 30.
  • Gilderdale, P. "Cupid's Proxy: The Postcard and Love at a Distance." Paper presented at the AUT Popular Culture Research Centre Symposium, February 2016.
  • Gilderdale, P. "A Cuckoo in the Nest: History within Vocational Degrees." Paper presented at the New Zealand Historical Association Conference, Canterbury University, December 2015.
  • Gilderdale, P. "An Edwardian Language of Sentiment: Communicating Emotion through Greetings Postcards." Paper presented at the History of Emotions Conference, Victoria University, September 2015.
  • Gilderdale, P. "The First Facebook: Card Sending in New Zealand, 1880-1920." Paper given as part of the History@AUT public lecture series, July 2015.
  • Gilderdale, P. “Prints of Peace: Elihu Burritt and the Graphics of Reform.” In War and Peace, the Design History Society Conference, Oxford University, September 2014.
  • Gilderdale, P. “Hands Across the Sea: Postcards that Tamed the Migratory Divide.” In New Historical Perspectives on New Zealand and the Sea, Centre for Research on Colonial Culture, University of Otago, November 2013.
  • Gilderdale, P. “Hands Across the Sea: Situating an Edwardian Greeting Postcard Practice.” Doctoral Dissertation, Auckland University of Technology, 2013
  • Gilderdale, P. “Of Hand, Quill and Virtue.” Preface to Niels Shoe Meulman: Painter. Berlin: From Here to Fame Publishing, 2012: pp.10-11.
  • Gilderdale, P. “Elegant Trifles: Selling Christmas Cards in New Zealand, 1875-1900. In the Business and Labour History Group Symposium, AUT, September, 2010.
  • Gilderdale, P. “Tasman’s A’s: Lessons for the Postmodern Typographer from Early Dutch/New Zealand History. The National Grid 5, 2009: pp.49-57.
  • Gilderdale, P. “What’s in a Grip: A study of Historical Penholds.” Letter Arts Review 22 (1), 2006:  pp.11-27.
  • Gilderdale, P. “The Calligraphers Toast: Vive la Plume.” Letter Arts Review 22 (1), 2006: pp.38-43.
  • Gilderdale, P. (2006) “Of Hand Quill and Virtue.” Simulacrum X1V (2) 2006, pp.15-19