Being born, raised and schooled in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, as a farmer’s son, I am imbued with a sensory perception of all the influences and memories that were a part of my upbringing and my life thus far.
“You are the garden you grow up in” is a phrase I like to use when describing the characteristics of someone.
Not only does this apply to one’s world view (in my case Christian) or morality - but also what pleases (or displeases) one’s senses.
This is how the life I have experienced has come to influence what I Photograph.
I will never forget things like the visits to the Xhosa boys undergoing initiation (Abakwetha) (1) on the farm near Queenstown (Komani) where we grew up.
Or the night of much wailing and much commotion – and waking up to discover that our much loved Nomakhaya had been ‘twalad’ (2) and, so we thought, never to be seen again. It was with much relief when she returned as a ‘makhoti’. (3)
Or the endless ‘ntsomis’ (4) as told by what, in hindsight, were brilliant raconteurs during the endless hours spent in the Shearing Shed.
From these memories come the interest in, and respect for, Xhosa Culture.
Hunting Season – the rules, restrictions and being grounded in a healthy respect for what we were hunting and a sense of responsible conservation. (So sadly lacking in our modern world).
Never shooting a Vaal Rhebok (5)….
Tracking a wounded animal until it was found no matter what….
Never shooting a Guinea Fowl or Partridge on the ground…
And none of this never, ever, on a Sunday!
From this a love and respect of all things nature and wild.
What of the day I first set eye’s on Arty Girl – a Thoroughbred filly off the racetrack!
Could there be anything more elegant, or beautiful or noble – not to mention her grace and speed – from whence stems my love of the Thoroughbred.
There were the family gatherings – all seated around a very large table, and games on the lawn afterwards. “Mind the flowers’, being a loud admonishment often used!!
….consideration for the elderly
Not to mention the memorable ways much loved mothers, grandmothers, aunts and cooks prepared the different dishes.
A healthy sense of what Henry Cloud describes as Boundaries was instilled in all of us.
Apart from some time working in Ireland, including a stint at the now world famous Coolmore, and 18 months in what was South West Africa (involuntarily and rather not mentioned) the largest portion my life has been spent in the Eastern Cape – and it is all of this that influences what I create.
I hope you enjoy this space…and share the journey with me.
1. Abakwetha - when a Xhosa boy is undergoing his transition to manhood. This involves circumcision and a period of seclusion in the bush.
2. Twalad (ukutwala)– a practice whereby a young woman was carried off by a suitors friends to be ‘married’ sometimes with and sometimes without her consent., and normally during the night. This is very rare in the modern age.
3. Makhoti – a wife
4. Ntsomis – stories
5. Vaal Rhebok – a species of Antelope not suitable for consumption