The Cape Town area known as District Six (so called for its geographic position on the municipal map of the city) developed as a suburb on the farm Zonnebloem, which was first registered as a freehold by Claas Hendrik Diepermn in 1701.
In 1832, the farm was sold to William Hurter, a wine merchant who had a house in Berg Street, Cape Town. Six years later, Hurter subdivided the property, and through the second half of the 19th century, District Six developed into a dense residential area close to the centre of Cape Town.
Home to a diverse community with a wide range of historical origins, neglect on the part of landlords and local authorities led to the area becoming rundown. The Central Government repeatedly directed requests to the city council and the landlords – most of whom were white and not residing in the area – to upgrade what was fast becoming a slum on the doorstep of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
On 11 February 1966, the government declared District Six a white area under the Group Areas Act, and the wholesale removal of the inhabitants was started – mainly to areas away from the city.
Over the next fifteen years, in excess of 55 000 people were relocated.
The spirit of District Six lives on in the hearts and minds of its people. THE SPIRIT OF DISTRICT SIX is an historical record of the inhabitants and their surroundings of that time, compiled over a period of five years.
Born in Cape Town on June 22, 1938, David Levin attended SACS School in Cape Town before departing South Africa for London in 1958. He took his first, tentative steps into photography by signing up as a photographic sales assistant in a retail shop in Welbeck Street, before moving into medical photography for a dental and a plastic surgeon round the corner in Harley Street.
In 1961, he left London for Canada and trained as a television cameraman at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp prior to returning to South Africa and rediscovering his love for his hometown through more mature eyes.
David worked as a press photographer for the Cape Times morning newspaper and had one of his photographs, taken during the epic events surrounding the world’s first heart transplant, exhibited at the World Press Photo Exhibition at The Hague in 1969. He eventually left the Cape Times and opened his own studio specialising in industrial public relations and magazine photography. Post closing his studio, he began working for Groote Schuur Hospital as a medical photographer, and remained there for 25 years until his retirement.
David has maintained his fascination with District 6 and the Malay Quarter, and spends many hours walking around, talking to the people and practising his passion of taking photographs.
Ginger Odes was as famous for the myriad of creative careers he helped foster as he was for being one of the finest photographers this country has ever produced.
Born in Cape Town in 1924, Ginger’s career was rooted in the air force as a reconnaissance and aerial photographer during World War II. After the war, he returned home to set up a photographic studio in Parliament Street in partnership with John Parminter. He soon made a name for himself for his work in fashion for clients including Harper and Vogue, who published a South African edition at the time.
Ginger went on to produce a fine collection of portraits of Cape Town’s leading personalities, but his true passion was for recording exquisite imagery of the local ballet scene. This “work of heart” was the inspiration for Ginger’s most beautiful work.
Ginger founded the ad agency Kluth and Odes, with a client base that included Shell and Rembrandt. In later assignments, he spent much time photographing the Cape’s iconic winelands, and local wine and brandy producer KWV sent him across the globe to produce a series of international calendars, his inspiration for mounting an exhibition titled “Odes to Wine”.
Ginger passed away in 2003, leaving a legacy of internationally-renowned visual professionals including his close friend Barry Lategan, colleague Leslie Dektor, Gavin Furlonger, John Parminter and Reinhardt Wolf.
Currently operating under the auspices of Platinum Photography, Juhan Kuus is a multiple award-winning photographer with more than 30 years’ experience as a photojournalist.
Based in Cape Town, Juhan has indelibly left his mark on the fields of Press and Editorial, Public Relations, NGOs and Concerned Humanity photographic projects. Selected from a pool of the planet’s finest photographers, Juhan’s work was showcased in the publication 75 Years of Leica Photography, first published in 1990 and unveiled to the world at PhotoKino.
Juhan is also represented by Gavin Furlonger of Hurricanes Photographers Agency, and recently partnered with Leica cameras to complete a documentation of 25 years of Khayelitsha Festivals.
BOOKS, EXHIBITIONS AND AWARDS
Books and Publications
South Africa in Black and White, published by Harrap (London), 1987
The Reader’s Digest History of South Africa, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Times (London), The Independent (London), Paris Match (France), etc.
Photographs published in The Vingboons Cartographer Book (and exhibition), the Netherlands; various other books, including one of the Mandela books.
Moderns Gallery, Kalk Bay, Cape Town (MOP 2008)
Tufts University Boston (USA) - images now in their permanent collection
The Perpignan Photo Festival (France) - three exhibitions.
Awards for Excellence
The South Africa Press Photographer of the Year Award (twice)
The World Press Photo Award - Holland (twice)
The Vodacom Photojournalist of the Year (Western Cape Province)
The J&B Financial Mail Young Achievers Award (twice)
The Angiers exhibition and awards: The Grand Prix Award (France)
In excess of 25 other local and international awards.
James Soullier, who passed away in Johannesburg in 2005 at the age of 76, was chief photographer of the Sunday Express before moving on to become chief photographer for the Sunday Times between 1965 and 1991.
Famed for his love of his Leica camera, which he refused to move from despite his peers shifting to more modern technology, James was renowned for his passion for natural, ambient light and was never observed using a flash.
Born in Ontario, Canada in 1928, James arrived in South Africa in 1948 via England and Australia, and taught himself photography while employed as a commercial artist for OK Bazaars. He has been described as having the soul of an artist, harnessing light and shade to create atmosphere and portray character and stopping at nothing to ensure that his work took best advantage of the surrounding environment. The ensuing picture was more often than not a work of art.
One of his most famed images was immortalised in The Hague Museum in the Netherlands and featured the artist Pietro Annigoni at work on a portrait of Harry Oppenheimer’s wife, Bridget.
Feature photography was James Soullier’s passion, and his work in press photography was punctuated by countless iconic images, but his career can perhaps best be characterised by the fact that he was the only white photographer at the funeral of the Sharpeville massacre victims in 1960, and a single image that features James with his camera dangling from his neck as he assists a victim of the Loftus Versfeld rugby stadium stand collapse of 1970.
Soullier said that was never callous, but that he couldn’t afford to feel fear or pity while taking pictures - if he did, he wouldn’t be able to do his job of recording history as unobtrusively as possible. Only when he had the pictures he wanted did he allow himself to feel shock or compassion.
"I continuously search for a greater understanding of who I am.
My interest in Space and Time is an extension of this journey, which begins with the self and extends outwards for as far as my imagination will allow
- Astrophysicists speculate as to what lies beyond the edge of the observable Universe- the Great Unknown - the endless possibilities inspire me and motivate my reason for Being.
Abstract art, for me, is a vessel towards this potential Infinity”.
In a life cut short, Pierre Crocquet did not settle for comfortable white collar servitude. Instead, he embarked on a path that will leave an enduring legacy.
Born in 1971 in Cape Town, Crocquet grew up in Klerksdorp, a mining town to the west of Johannesburg. He dutifully followed his family’s wishes and graduated from the University of Cape Town with a financial degree and became a Chartered Accountant.
He left South Africa for London in 1996 to take up a position at what was then Chase Manhattan merchant bank. Initially Crocquet thought it would be a dream job but in a letter home he wrote, “The money paid here is obscenely high but I hate the work and what the banks are doing. I cannot see that what I am producing is meaningful and I feel I am leaving no worthwhile legacy behind.”
He abandoned banking and went to study photography at the London College of Printing. Crocquet yearned for home and just after the millennium he returned to South Africa and his work then focused on life in South Africa and on the African continent. Two books, Us (2002) and On Africa Time (2003) were published.
In early 2002 Crocquet discovered South African jazz and he spent the next seven years photographing the artists producing the sounds he loved. Crocquet frequented concerts from Moretele Park to the Noth Sea Jazz Festival and captured timeless moments of musicians and singers - some who were at the height of their fame, others, youngsters just starting out.
His work was noticed and the Standard Bank Art Gallery bought 25 large prints and held an exhibition, Sound Check, in 2005. A book with the same name, sponsored by the bank, was also published that year.
In 2009 Crocquet began working on what would be his final body of work, the award winning Pinky Promise. The work photographically documented the personal stories of three pedophiles, and five victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Crocquet immersed himself in the murky territory of child sex offenders for three years and his photographing of jazz performers took a back seat. He elaborated on his move from the world of spot lights and brass instruments to the shadowy world of pedophiles saying, “I involve myself in life and capture it via my lens at the same time. I am drawn to the darker sides of humanity, maybe because I see the lighter side of life so brightly.”
The book Pinky Promise, which accompanied an exhibition of the same name held at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, was published in 2011. The exhibition was critically acclaimed and the book was short listed for the Alan Paton award, but the years of working on such an intense project left Crocquet creatively burned out.
In November 2012 he began a six month isolated retreat at a remote Buddhist centre. He was meditating for 14 hours a day, eating very sparsely and in the final months had opted to remain silent. Two weeks before the end of the retreat Crocquet began to exhibit signs of mental distress and severe paranoia.
During the night of May 1 2013 he left the retreat, wearing just a pair of shorts, and made his way into the nearby town of Groot Merico. He was walking along the highway when he was killed in a hit and run at 2am on May 2nd at the age of 42.
Not much is known about the early life of Billy Monk. Although he was born on January 11 it was never sure what year, and no one knew his exact age. He didn't like to speak about his childhood, although it is clear that he came from a home that was less than whole- a drunk for a father and a stepmother. His early occupations consisted of surviving in any manner he could, largely through petty crime. He was sent to jail for two years as a teenager for stealing a safe, and there learned to become a receptionist. He then moved on to smuggling- be it across the Transkei or poaching fish off the coast of Cape Town. Throughout the course of his life he held a variety of jobs- a Woolworths model, a photographers assistant, a diamond diver, a sandal shop owner, the proprietor of a vegetarian restaurant, and finally, a bouncer and photographer.
When Monk's work as a bouncer didn't work out he entered the world of photography. Still working in the Catacombs, he began to make his living taking pictures of the diverse clientele in what was a rather seedy bar. He used a Pentax camera, with a 35 mm focal-length lens, a small flash and Ilford FP4 film. The bright flash easily illuminated not only the sordid underground life of the bar, but also the vivacity and variety of the people who came there. Although he stopped taking pictures in 1969, there still remains a large collection of photographs for us to enjoy today. His photographs show a variety of the underbelly of Cape Town life at the time- ranging from old men with young wives and gay couples, to midgets and mixed race r Monk's work was discovered in 1979 by Jac de Villiers, in a studio that he had recently moved into. Not only were they already perfectly constructed by the photographer, they were also impeccably annotated with dates and names, which made curation a simple and enjoyable process. The first exhibition of Monk's work took place at the Market Gallery in Johannesburg in 1982 and although Monk could not attend the event it was subject to much critical acclaim.
Monk's work was discovered in 1979 by Jac de Villiers, in a studio that he had recently moved into. Not only were they already perfectly constructed by the photographer, they were also impeccably annotated with dates and names, which made curation a simple and enjoyable process. The first exhibition of Monk's work took place at the Market Gallery in Johannesburg in 1982 and although Monk could not attend the event it was subject to much critical acclaim.
Monk was working in the depth of the Apartheid in South Africa a time when the colour of your skin was indicative of where you could live, work, who you could marry, and where you could drink. The underground lifestyle of The Catacombs, where Monk worked, were a breeding ground for what we today would call dissent. However neither Monk nor his subjects considered themselves dissenters. Monk chose to take pictures originally as a way of making money, by selling them back to his clients while his subjects were merely out for a night on the town. However the result, is that an observer looking from another time can see the subversive culture, the dark bars, and the daring of the men and women in the photographs as an outcome and a rebellion against the reign of the apartheid regime.
The off beat appearance of the photographs, strikingly black and white against a dark background, reveal a variety of clientele, and a variety of nights.
Kaelik, Haroun and Lucian
This work explores the delicate relationship between the viewer and the viewed. In this context, it is a very close, complicated and layered bond between a mother and her three children. There are elements of this work that could be considered a self portrait, without the photographer’s presence. The children perform for their mother. Their unguarded playfulness in the images is reflective of their intimate connection to her. Subtle details of the children’s personalities are at once revealed and concealed. What happens in the actual frame, is continued and extended into the real world and vice versa.
The series in the form of a family album looks at the relations between the siblings and their environment. The photographs are presented in a miniature format in order to highlight the idea that intimate viewing is required. The children often in exploring the world around them through play, shift between reality and fantasy. Mundane everyday activities, like cutting hair and being sick, are placed next to more playful situations. A sick bandaged child is easily placed next to masked faces. Infrequently exposed to television, the children rely exclusively on their imagination to create fantastical games. The camera becomes part of these moments in an effort to preserve this particular moment in their lives. Every moment reveals something new as they grow older. The images have a timeless quality.
The work is specifically photographed on lomographic black and white film so that presence of the photographic medium is strongly felt. The unpredictability of film means that the viewer looks at the content in the images as well as the actual mistakes which are prevalent in the film. The “mistakes” become an important part of the images, creating strong design elements within the frame.
MY FIRST LOVE
It was in my late teens that the fine arts became a passion of mine and, had photography not seduced me away, I would have gone on to study fine art at Michaelis Art School in Cape Town.
The attraction to photography led me to Dirk Schwager’s studio. From day one as his understudy, I was assigned to darkroom duties. After fourteen months in the ‘dark ages’ he finally handed me a Nikon F2, one roll of black-and-white film and ushered me out into the daylight, “Bring back some pictures and, make sure they’re bloody good.”
It’s been 38 years since I went out on my own but it’s in the last few years that my passion for the fine arts re-surfaced. In 2011, I dug out my old SLR cameras, imported film stock, I now leave my digital gear behind and venture out in pursuit of creating and taking pictures; “make sure they’re bloody good” echoing in my mind.
I know that analog photography and Silver-Gelatin handprints are the way forward to liberating that first love. [Anchor]
“...the camera need not be a cold mechanical device. Like the pen, it is as good as the man who uses it. It can be the extension of mind and heart...” - John Steinbeck
BIO OF PATRICK DE MERVELEC
Patrick de Mervelec was born in Paris in 1945. He worked in France until 1998 and has since been based in South Africa.
In the early years Patrick studied photography at the Institut National de la Photographie in Paris before becoming assistant photographer to Maurice Tabard - one of the great masters of the surrealist movement and a peer of Man Ray’s - who became his mentor. Tabard’s still life and innovative solarisation techniques still influence Patrick to this day.
Thanks also to Tabard, Patrick developed an incisive eye and learnt to capture images at speed. This gave him a knack for street photography and reportage and he became a photo reporter at Paris Match, covering the frenzied events of the sixties, doing features on the Beatles, Deneuve, Piaf or Churchill. Parallel to this he was fashion photographer for a number of publications including Marie-Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and l’Officiel.
Patrick was a member of the Paris based Fondation Leica from 1981 to 1991. This group included Salgado, Klein, Roversi, Doisneau, Sieff and Depardon.
Over the years Patrick has gained much experience in advertising photography and particularly enjoyed working on the presidential election campaigns for political leaders such as François Mitterrand (“La Force Tranquille”), Emil Constantinescu, Mesut Yilmaz or Nelson Mandela/Thabo Mbeki.
The early seventies saw his entrée into the theatrical world and, as actor and director, he had the opportunity to work with Gilles Bouillon, Peter Brook, Yoshi Oïda, Andréas Voutzinas, Delphine Seyrig and Claude Brasseur. In 1973 he directed a documentary movie, “L’Atelier”, focusing on the Actors Studio and Lee Strasberg’s “method acting”.
The art of portraiture has always been intrinsic to Patrick’s work; he loves interacting with people. Whether he is working with friends, strangers, artists, musicians, politicians, writers, farmers, street people or dancers, his approach is one of candour and simplicity and his images unravel the identity and tell something of the story of the person he is working with.
Patrick has created photographic collections on a variety of different themes from nude studies to documentary photography, landscapes and dance. Most collections have culminated in the publication of a book accompanied by a series of exhibitions (see below).
Over the years, he has conducted a series of master classes in photography, the most recent of which was in 2016 at the Summer Academy, Venice, during the Biennale.
1988 Participates in ‘Splendeurs et Misères du Corps’ exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art – Paris (certain works housed in the Museum’s permanent collection).
1989 Publishes (in gravure) ‘Histoires de France – 1789 / 1989’ (Editions Contrejour; preface by French Minister of Culture, Jack Lang) on the Bicentennial of the French Revolution. Exhibitions (same title) at FNAC Art Galleries throughout France.
1996 Publishes ‘Regards sur l’Afrique du Sud’ (Editions Nouveau Monde), with poems by Mazisi Kunene (translated into French).
2001 Publishes ‘The Jo’Burgers’ (Protea Book House), prefaced by Don Mattera. Exhibitions (same title) throughout Africa.
2002 – 03 Publishes ‘Nude Landscape’ (Protea Book House). Exhibition (same title) at Photoza Gallery, Johannesburg. ‘Looking at South Africa’ exhibition at Rau Art Gallery, Johannesburg.
2004 Publishes ‘Looking at South Africa: 1994 – 2004’ (de Mervelec & Aurouet). ‘Looking at South Africa’ exhibitions throughout Africa and at Zuva Art Gallery, Melrose Arch, Johannesburg.
2005 Publishes ‘The South African Ballet Theatre’, (In Camera Art Publications). Exhibition (same title) at Gesseau Art, Johannesburg.
2007 – 08 Publishes the catalogue ‘Cul de Sac, my pilgrimage with Johnny Clegg’ (In Camera Art Publications). Exhibition (same title) at Alliance Française, Johannesburg; Espace Michel Simon, Noisy-le-Grand, Paris; Museum Africa, Johannesburg.
2009 Exhibition ‘The Gautrain, constructivism & urbanism’ at Alliance Française, Johannesburg. Exhibition of vintage print collection, ‘Histoires de France 1789 – 1989’ at Alliance Française, Johannesburg.
2013 Publishes ‘Johannesburg architecture and heritage’ (In Camera Art Publications); book launch and exhibition at David Krut Projects, Johannesburg and The Photographers’ Gallery, Cape Town.
2014 Creates collection ‘Les Nuits’ focusing on the choreographic work by Preljocaj.
2014 – 17 Currently working on two new exhibitions and book publications.