Sometimes the artist and documentarian/journalist in me are at war because of the harsh social realities of life in South Africa, but as I mature, I’m giving myself permission to express stories in a more gentle and creative way. This is one of water and healing.
Water is my element. I was blessed to grow up around oceans, rivers, lakes and pools. Whenever I feel stressed or upset, water settles me and I feel alive, calm and centered.
Which is why I have this ongoing love affair with this public pool in Cape Town called The Pavilion, separated from the ocean by a single wall.
I’ve swum here since I was a child. In those dark days, the pool was by law, for white people only. I imagine the many children looking longingly at the water on blistering summer days, wondering why they couldn’t swim there too.
25 years later, thankfully that madness is over and it’s now a place where everyone is free to enjoy the water together. I marvel at how one big square of water can be such a leveler as we encounter each other semi-naked, how it lightens the spirits and bodies of everyone who visits. It’s certainly been a central in my healing journey.
I broke my body. Badly. For the past 30 years, I’ve had an amazing but super intense career and life in South Africa as a journalist, photographer, documentary filmmaker and teacher in turbulent, volatile and incredible times of massive changes. I pushed way too hard and ignored the signals my body was sending. I kept thinking I’d take it easy after this shoot, this edit, this workshop, this meeting, this lecture, this flight, this screening, this discussion. And so, I burnt out.
I changed my diet and lifestyle by learning to slow down and be present. I started meditating and living as mindfully as I could. My understanding of and connection to water deepened profoundly and I found my photography changed quite radically as well.
I didn’t set out to make a body of work here, I just started taking photos because I enjoy the place so much.
But over time, I saw a series emerging;
Images of laughter, joy and flight,
Decrepit old bodies unfolding into the water,
Babies discovering it for the first time,
People exercising, tourists and school kids all lightening up together in our most precious of substances.