Photography and especially that of people, had always been a passion. I received my first lessons from my father, a keen photographer and artist, who gave me my first camera, an Agfa, when I was eight or nine. Many years later, in 1992, I upgraded to a Pentax SLR film camera. After meeting and marrying Maré Mouton, an experienced graphic designer and photographer, in 2003, we started producing the magazine Village Life. That and digital cameras have allowed me to revive my latent interest in photography, this time with constructive criticism and guidelines from Maré who had worked in journalism, graphic design, photography and public relations in South Africa and Namibia.
I prefer to work with available light.
In October 2007, I held my first exhibition, titled “Portrait of a Village”, with 56 of the over 50 000 photos I had taken of Stanford’s residents over a period of only five months during the village’s 150th year. More than 400 people attended the opening of the exhibition and it was said that my use of available light “reminded of that used by the Old Dutch Masters” in painting. In February 2008 a large-format book, Stanford 150 : Portrait of a Village, was published with text and over 500 photographs by myself and the design and layout by Maré. The book depicts a broad spectrum of the people currently living in the village: white, coloured and black, young and old, rich and poor, the landowners and the landless, the workers and the loafers. All the photographs were taken using only available light.
Portrait of a Village attracted attention both from local reviewers and overseas. “Annalize’s unique style of capturing natural light and the essence of her subjects”, resulted in an invitation from people in the Netherlands to have my photos exhibited there. An exhibition of 22 photos was on show in Podium Mozaiek in Amsterdam Bos en Lommer (www.podiummozaiek.nl) a stage dedicated to cultural diversity, and in the Scagon theatre in Schagen. And in January 2009 the full selection was on show in the Suid Afrika Huis on Keizersgracht in Amsterdam.
On 25 October 2008 I received a surprise visit from a German couple, Claas Spitz and Alexandra Sprockhoff who spotted my book at “The Retreat at Groenfontein” near Calitzdorp in the Klein Karoo and were “captivated”. They promptly changed their itinerary and drove to Stanford, where they met Annalize on 25 October 2008. Claas and Alexandra told the story of the Lüchow project, and how they in turn had been inspired by the book produced in Fermignano. Annalize at that stage had already accepted an invitation from the Arts Association of Bellville to exhibit her photographs in January 2009, so she suggested that the three villages all show some of their photographs. Claas immediately telephoned Dirk Roggan in Germany, who phoned Gustavo DeLuca in Italy, and everything was agreed to for a combined exhibition – Portraits of Three Villages.
There was great excitement all over! The possibilities of such an exhibition were endless. “There might be other towns in the world that have embarked on similar projects and we can only wait and watch it grow, perhaps something akin to The Family of Man, the exhibition created by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the 1950’s.”
Later in 2009 combined exhibitions, like the one in Bellville, were held in Fermignano and also in Lüchow.
My dream of showing God in every human to the community and the world, of getting to know one another by name, looking at our fellow humans with new eyes, hopefully, contributed in some small way to our community living together in a new way.
Perhaps the book and the subsequent exhibitions were small glimpses of heaven on earth, of how it could be.
For photos and information about exhibitions in Holland, click on this link: Holland
For photos and information about exhibition in Fermignano, Italy, click on this link: Fermignano
For photos and information about exhibition in Lüchow, Germany, click on this link: Lüchow
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