From Project To Exhibition by Zoe Morley

It's been a a long journey to get to this point but we have finally made it to the exhibition! 2 years in the making, but really the last 5 months of working on this project daily has brought us to the finish line. 

Now on at the Incinerator Art Space and part of the Head On Photo Festival 2018 is my exhibition of photographs from 2005/6 and 2016 as a "Then and Now' series.

The exhibition includes a collection of 26 images, some as compositions that highlight the profession of time from 2005 to now, as these children have grown.

The opening night was on the 9th of May and we had an overwhelming turnout of about 250 people. Gail Kelly opened the show and she did a fantastic job of highlighting the issues of HIV/AIDS in South Africa but also how we can help the situation for these many orphans showing our support. 

All the profits and donations raised from this exhibition will be donated. Currently we are at about $15000 of our $30000 goal.

I have had some really great sponsors that have helped with this Exhibition and I can't thank them enough. Thank you to Momento Pro who have helped me create a beautiful book that you can purchase (available in online shop), Vision Image Lab who have done the most beautiful printing, Amaraiso Framing who tied the exhibition together with their amazing framing, Toto Branding and Design - especially Wendy who created all the beautiful invitations and posters, and to The Boomerang Project and Apheda who are helping with collecting the donations. 

The exhibition will run until the 27th of May. I will be doing a special artist talk on the 19th of May at 2pm if you are interested in hearing about the project.

Come and say hi and see the show at the Incinerator Art Space, 2 Small Street, Willoughby.

Wed - Sun, 10 - 4pm. 10th - 27th May.

Images from opening night thanks to Tarryn Walker Photography

And Thats A Wrap! by Zoe Morley

I have just retuned home after an incredible experience in South Africa. I haven’t really had a chance to update the blog until now, so will quickly fill you in on what I’ve been up to for the last few weeks.

I ended up spending a few days photographing at an amazing boarding school for underprivileged deaf children just outside of Durban, called Kwa Thika. 

 'L.O.V.E'  - South African Sign Language

'L.O.V.E'  - South African Sign Language

I spent the day alongside some lovely teachers, and got to see what life at the school is like for those children completely deaf or hearing impaired. It was honestly so remarkable to see what these kids can do, especially considering where they have come from. Most of the children come from communities on the outskirts of Durban and live in poverty. To get to school when school starts at beginning of term some have to walk by themselves for hours. (One child was killed walking to school because he didn’t hear the noise of a tuck behind him, so heart-breaking). The school is wonderful for encouraging the kids to learn skills in the real world. They have a kitchen to learn culinary skills, they have  a ‘mini’ hairdresser (one of the teachers decided I would look great with a few braids, I was less convinced when she had finished), they also have wood-working and drama club among other things. 

The most remarkable thing I found whilst photographing was just the silence. Even when class broke for break, and there were hundreds of kids running around you didn’t hear a peep. Normally at a school if it was break time you would hear the kids from miles away. In fact, you could actually hear the kids on break from the local public school down the road - but just silence in the corridors. It wasn’t as though they weren’t talking, the kids were running around, having fun, telling each other what to do, as normal kids do, just just all with their hands. It was really quite beautiful.

 High school girls chatting together in sign language during their break.

High school girls chatting together in sign language during their break.

 4 boys and 1 girl in the same family, including a set of twins, who are all completely deaf attending the school.

4 boys and 1 girl in the same family, including a set of twins, who are all completely deaf attending the school.

With the little ones (they start boarding school at 3 before its too late to learn to sign), they sat quietly around, and got so excited to have me there. They jumped up when they saw me and wanted to know immediately what my ‘sign name’ was. This is the name a deaf person goes by - that expresses something physical about them in a simple sign, so that they can sign their names easily. Normally given to each other from others that would be deaf, or hard of hearing. As I haven’t met a deaf person before, I have never been given a sign name. It was just amazing how these 3-5 year olds just unanimously looked at me and declared that my name was ‘green eyes z’.. they did this by pointing under each eye, and then using their finger in the air to draw a Z. 

The kids demonstrated how they learn how to express themselves with different facial emotions. Its amazing what you take for granted when you can hear. One of the kids had a large star stuck to his forehead, and that was to show that he had done good work. Everything is done by sight and so expressively visual. Even when the teacher needed their attention she had to flick the lights on and off so they realised she was ‘speaking’ to them.

 The older kids loved a good selfie - particularly when I showed them snap chat!

The older kids loved a good selfie - particularly when I showed them snap chat!

I spent some time photographing the older kids, and they were so interested in what I was up to. They were so expressive, and full of big personalities, always laughing, and ‘arguing’ with each other… all done by a dancing of their hands. It was beautiful to watch. They were ecstatic when I started filming them and asked them to dance (I had to write every thing down on my phone so it took a while to relay information, especially as Zulu is their first language and English is their second). Imagine that they have never heard the beat of a song, and yet they were all able to dance perfectly in unison together. They turn up the music loud enough - so they can actually feel the beat of the music through the ground.

 I found this young girl so mesmerising. She is completely deaf, but also albino. Unfortunately these two things make her easy prey for bullying and social ostracisation. I noticed her around the playground, always alone. I was almost hesitant to ask her for her photo, because I didn't want to look like I was picking her out from the crowd and upset her. When I did eventually ask she was so excited. Although seemingly shy, in front of the camera she was a different person. She took over and without asking she did all her on poses, particularly seemed to love getting her gansta on. It was nice to see her enjoying herself, and she loved previewing the photos on the back of my camera afterwards.

I found this young girl so mesmerising. She is completely deaf, but also albino. Unfortunately these two things make her easy prey for bullying and social ostracisation. I noticed her around the playground, always alone. I was almost hesitant to ask her for her photo, because I didn't want to look like I was picking her out from the crowd and upset her. When I did eventually ask she was so excited. Although seemingly shy, in front of the camera she was a different person. She took over and without asking she did all her on poses, particularly seemed to love getting her gansta on. It was nice to see her enjoying herself, and she loved previewing the photos on the back of my camera afterwards.

I had a sort of vision of what I wanted when I went, but that was sort of blown out the window when I arrived. Its hard to know what to expect when you walk into an unknown environment. When it came to taking their portraits I got a little frustrated because they were so over dramatic and ‘posey’ with their faces - where as in my head I just wanted them to look at me - and no matter how much I tried to relay that, they just never understood, and they kept on doing these crazy, over the top faces. It was frustrating, but they were having so much fun anyway, that I was just going with it. And then it hit me - they don’t know how to do a blank face. For them everything is about the expression in their facial features because thats how they relay their feelings, emotions and words when signing and getting their thoughts across - so of course they were going to be over the top with their facials. I was trying to get them to be something that they didn’t understand or was a part of who they are, and when I understood that, it was so much easier to take their photos, and I realised that this was more for them, and capturing who they were rather than what I had wanted before even knowing them.  

 Just a muck around image to give you an idea of the facial expressions I was given when asking them to give me their 'normal' face. 

Just a muck around image to give you an idea of the facial expressions I was given when asking them to give me their 'normal' face. 

The last week that I had for myself, I decided to go to do a bit of hiking through the Drakensburg which was an ideal way to end my time in South Africa. Beautiful vast landscapes, and plenty of time for self refection and downtime… which after such an intense couple of weeks I definitely needed it. 

 Me a top a ridge near Champagne Castle Mountain, Drakensburg.

Me a top a ridge near Champagne Castle Mountain, Drakensburg.

 Drakensburg iphone special.

Drakensburg iphone special.

I got back to Sydney on Friday and it is definitely nice to be home. The project itself was quite unexpectedly challenging, particularly trying to co-ordinate the portraits by myself at Rehoboth. I think having another person with me would have been particularly useful at times, as I had to take photos whilst trying to keep all the rest of the kids at bay. Within seconds I had dirty fingers all over my lenses, kids running away with my gear, jumping all over me for attention and deleting my files. It was pretty hard work! Finding the time to photograph the older kids was really difficult too. Not much support or help was offered to me, so I found myself trying to work all this out by myself, especially with typical teenagers who, as you can imagine, aren't that interested in having their photos taken. 

Although I probably got what I needed, at times I felt pretty frustrated and not quite able to get what I had originally envisioned. Due to what was available to me and my own personal capabilities in an unfamiliar environment made photographing certain ideas near impossible at times. I am still hoping to have enough content to make an exhibition successful. 

Now the hard work begins. I will be back in front of the computer after a long stretch of managing to avoid it (apologies for my lack of email correspondence) and its time to start the culling and editing process of all the images. I will keep you updated on this process but hopefully in the next month I will be able to send out all the prints and postcards to everyone who had selected them for their rewards for supporting the project on Kickstarter :)

 Written on the black board of Kwa Thinka when I left :) 

Written on the black board of Kwa Thinka when I left :) 

A little blind boy wrote me a letter on his braille type-writer. The sweetest letter I have ever received!

Thank you again to everyone who has encouraged me on this trip - who believed in me even when I had my own doubts. I love you all. xxx 

 

Portrait Time by Zoe Morley

The last few days have seen me running around all over the shop. I have really been struggling with getting all the portraits done that I need to. It seems that everyone is very much on ‘African Time’ and the more I try to get things done the slower the progress feels. 

It also happens to be exam week for the kids so whilst trying not to disturb their routine too much, and with them all doing different activities at different times of the day it really is almost impossible to organise a time that they can do it - not just when they WANT to do it - which seems to be NEVER. Besides all that I have managed to get what I need I think. I would have liked to have spent more time getting more shots, but it has proven near impossible to turn teenagers into models! 

 Just a few fun snaps of the the kids

Just a few fun snaps of the the kids

I also managed to go around to every single child at Rehoboth and take an individual portrait of them too - it wasn’t my original plan but just in case I come back in another 5 - 10 years it might be nice to see where they are at again.

Between trying to convince teenagers to let me photograph them, as well as the rest of the kids, I also went far out into the local community. About 1 hour off a winding  dirt road into the middle of nowhere. I met with a lovely lady who runs a day care centre for under-privileged kids from the ages of 2-4. Without this out-reach project no kids in the area would have the opportunity for early childhood development, and many of them wouldn’t even be fed properly. Its partially government funded, but over 100 kids go there a day, so the centre needs to bring in at least $700 a month to keep it running. This doesn’t sound like a lot to us, but for them its massive, and for that amount they rely solely on sponsorship. With that money the teachers can be paid, but most importantly the kids get fed! They receive two meals a day there, with food that contains added vitamin supplements that they are missing out on at home. When the kids first join the the centre most of them have head and mouth sores, and other sicknesses related due to poor nutrition. 

 The community area around Khulani. (Taken with iphone... surprisingly) 

The community area around Khulani. (Taken with iphone... surprisingly) 

This day care centre (or Crèche as they are called in South Africa) is called Khulani - or ‘Growth’ in English. I spent the day here with Ally running around trying to get as many pictures as I could for her to use for promotional use to help her with sponsorship. I also took individual portraits of all of the kids so they can take one home for the parents and keep for themselves as none of them would have printed photos. It was quite a mission to organise over 80 kids under the age of 4 for their own photo. Most of them were completely terrified of me, and their faces covered in snot, so made for some interesting shots. 

I went back to Genesis as well just to take a few more photos through the wards. I went back to visit a lady, Cornelia, who I had made friends with last time I was in. She was only 70, Caucasian, never been married, with no kids and had suffered a terrible stroke. So she was in Genesis for general care and hopefully rehabilitation if she is ever able to walk again (doubtful). When I came through to see her it was pretty disturbing. She was in total agony and there was no medication she could take to ease her pain. She just took my hand and started crying, and saying things like ‘please give me something so I don’t have to live anymore, I would rather be dead’. She kept repeating the part ‘I would rather be dead’. It was a pretty difficult thing to try to say the right words to comfort a crying lady who has nothing in the world and doesn’t want to live anymore. I really didn’t know what to say, I felt absolutely terrible for her. I have so much admiration for the smiling staff that have to deal with that day in and day out. They are honestly angels, and if they are unable to get funding then these people would have nobody to care for them, and nowhere to go. 

 Cornelia. 

Cornelia. 

After finishing all I could do at Rehoboth and getting what I could of the photos I needed, I left for Durban and had to say goodbye to the kids. Was sad that I had to say good-bye to my sponsor kid again, but he was pretty stoked when I took him and 2 of the other older boys out for lunch and to see X-men. 

 with some of the little kids before I left. 

with some of the little kids before I left. 

I’ll be in Durban for the next week or so trying to organise a time to go in to Kwathintwa School School For The Deaf, a boarding school or underprivileged deaf children. I first heard about this school 10 years ago and have wanted to go back to photograph it since. The headmaster Mavis Naidoo is one of those incredible humans capable of anything, so I am looking forward to see her work at the school and how it is run!

 just for laughs ... our 'dabbing' attempt.

just for laughs ... our 'dabbing' attempt.

Getting Started by Zoe Morley

After arriving into Durban I ventured downtown to hire my ‘beast' of a car, also know as the smallest thing on the road. Was quite a challenge working out how use a ridiculous choke-like hand-brake, drive manual, navigate without google-maps (anyone who knows me would understand how much of disaster this is for me) whilst at the same time avoiding crazy taxi-bus’s full of locals criss-crossing the roads like speed demons. 

I got myself a sim card, but with limited reception google-maps was not my friend and seemed to enjoy sending me on a wild goose chase! After getting extremely lost in sugar cane fields, only 2% battery left on my phone, the sun setting and on the verge of an anxiety attack I managed to find Rehoboth! 

When I entered Rehoboth it was incredible to see how much had changed and developed in the 10 years since I volunteered here. When I was here there were only 6 houses with 25 kids and now they have 21 houses with 80 kids. There is also a school on site now for the older kids, separate pre-schools and day cares, a little shop for the house mums - it really has become a little village. 

The most amazing part was seeing the kids. I guess you can only really see the passing of time when you look at children and how they have grown. The great news coming here was that most of the original kids I was here with are still here - but all looking so grown up! I could only just recognise them as they have all grown into young adults. It was quite a shock. 

 With all the older boys! All these kids where with me 10 years ago, except for one. You may recognise the boy at the front as the face of my original exhibition :) 

With all the older boys! All these kids where with me 10 years ago, except for one. You may recognise the boy at the front as the face of my original exhibition :) 

When I was here 10 years ago I formed a special bond with one little boy. He was only two years old when I was here, he couldn't walk because his legs had been badly burned and he couldn't speak. The most rewarding experience I had there was that I taught him to walk, and his first words were my name. Although he didn't feature in my original exhibition, coming back just to see him was something I was looking forward to the most. Now he is 12, and almost as tall as me! He actually remembered me which was so nice because I came back to visit him 5 years ago on a day visit. He is now into athletics and is winning all the local running races. Amazing to see how far he has come from the little boy who couldn't walk 10 years ago. 

 2005

2005

  2016

 2016

The older boys have moved off site to a house about half an hour drive away, and the older girls are still on site. The most amazing change I saw was in one girl, who when I was at Rehoboth everyone believed she only had a couple more months to live. She was tiny for her age, never talked or smiled. Had to carry around an oxygen tank and mask with her to help her breathe, and we used to have to check her fingernails to make sure they weren’t going blue. Now she looks so healthy and happy, with the biggest, and most beautiful smile out of all the children. I was completely blown away!

The first two photos here were in 2005, when she was so small and sick. She looks like a toddler but she was actually already 5 years old. The bottom image is of her today.

I have begun to re-photograph them all, it has taken them a little while to warm to the idea. I wanted them to be comfortable with it all first which has taken a few days. Every day I would come by either one of the girls would be out, or one didn’t like her hair that day, or there was some sort of excuse. But after letting them muck around with my iPad, and taking some polaroid shots they got in the mood and found the whole thing quite hilarious. I showed them all my old photos and they couldn’t stop giggling and making fun of each other. The polaroids have also been a big hit! I have gone through a ridiculous amount of instant film, just because they are so obsessed with it. They had never seen instant film before and the surprise and excitement it brought the kids has been the most entertaining part of the whole adventure so far! 

There is just one of the kids that looks to be like it won’t be possible to photograph. He has turned 19 and unfortunately has taken a step away from Rehoboth and moved into the wrong circles, not wanting to be contacted. Such a shame as I remember him being the nicest kid, such a caring big brother to the other little ones. Now unfortunately since removing himself from Rehoboth he is no longer taking his meds, as well as getting himself involved in criminal activities. They think he may eventually come back for help, but in the mean time there isn’t anything that can really be done as he just wants to be left alone. As he was the oldest of the kids, he did feature a lot in my original exhibition, so its sad I wont be able to capture him again. I was thinking of trying to get his number, even though everyone has told me he wont be interested or answer, and no one has wanted me to get in touch, but I might try to find a way. Fingers crossed.

The other bad news is that I have been having a little difficulty with my film camera, so the frustrating part is that I am going to have to re-shoot all the kids I have done already, as I've had a few problems with the film not winding on properly.  Obviously finding out back home whether the film develops or not is a bit too late, so just to be safe I am going to make sure I get all the shots again. Face palm. 

I have also been volunteering my photography services at a local AIDs hospice. I spent the day there yesterday spending time with the patients in the wards. Many of them are in the final stages of AIDs, or have suffered a stroke and can no longer be cared for at home or by the hospital. 

It is really one of the most amazing places I have ever visited. I spoke to some of the patients who know they are dying but they are all so thankful to be there as now they won’t die alone. They are being shown so much care and love that they wouldn’t have received otherwise, as most of them have been abandoned by the families.

There are also some remarkable stories or rehabilitation coming out of there as well - even though they had come in to pass away, some have recovered well enough just through the amazing care they receive and taking the correct medications that they are able to go back to their communities. Such a remarkable outcome, because if there were more places like this that could help parents get back to working health so they can return to the communities then there wouldn’t be so many orphans as a result of the HIV/AIDs epidemic - and places like Rehoboth wouldn't be at capacity with kids orphaned by due to AIDs. 

It made me think that even though it's easy to want to raise money for the children affected by HIV/AIDs, if more money could be raised to help create other hospices like this one then the percentage or children who are orphaned would decline. Currently, Genesis, this particular hospice is the only one in the area that operates as a rehab and step-down care facility - with only 40 beds available. They rely mostly on donations to run, with only 50% government funding.  During the next few days, I am going to help them put together a fund-raising video and slideshow which will hopefully help them with some sponsorship. They need new photos for their pamphlets, brochures and website, so I am just going to help them out with some promotional material. I honestly couldn’t speak of a more deserving place in need of funds. 

I will continue to photograph at Rehoboth and Genesis for the next few days, then will be heading back up to Durban to spend some time photographing at a school for underprivileged deaf children to also help them with some promotional material. 

xx

**Just as a little side note, I am not allowed to mention the children's names due to privacy laws. 

 

 

We Did It! by Zoe Morley

Words cannot express how deeply humbled I am from the support I received from my Kickstarter Campaign. At the finish line we received a total of $11125!! Thank you so much for everyone's support!! :D