Celebrating Tourism Month

Archery in Parys

Trying my hand in Archiery at the Real adventures place in Parys, Free State province. Picture:Paballo Thekiso

My first road trip was with three of myvfriends. We planned the trip from Durban to Cape
Town in three months. We were young and carefree. We divided the trip into two parts with an overnight stay in Knysna.

For dinner we ate sushi for the first time, in a restaurant by the harbour. This was followed by a late night of drinking at the bar at the backpackers’ where we were staying before stumbling to our four-bunk bedroom in the early hours.

The next morning on the road was rough, we were tired, hungover and excited at the same time about reaching Cape Town. We arrived just before sunset at the Green Elephant backpackers in Observatory, our home for four nights.

The staff welcomed us with open arms and we formed friendships that are still alive today. We spent the days sightseeing in the CBD, shopping at the V&A Waterfront, sipping cocktails in Camps Bay and driving up Signal Hill.

2. Quad Biking in ParysPicture:Paballo Thekiso

The nights were spent playing pool in Lower Main Road Observatory and club-hopping in Long Street. Without realising it until the last night, we had spent most of our petrol money. Our parents came to our rescue, but not before scolding us for our irresponsible
behaviour. Memories from that trip remain fresh in my mind.

What made the trip extra special was we managed to save the little money we had at the time for an adventure that would see the four of us bonding… we learnt a lot about each other during the long drive in a small Corsa.

“I would like to think this trip ignited a lust for travel in each of us”

Since then, the four of us have travelled extensively in South Africa, as well as in Europe and the US. Contrary to what some might believe, one does not require a fat bank balanceto be able to travel, be it local or international. However, some saving and smart planning is key.

Common sense goes a long way. For example, buying a plane ticket a few months before you travel will be cheaper than booking the flight the day before you are due to travel.

In the past, I have taken the Greyhound bus to Durban to visit my family and overland trucks to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Namibia for holidays. The experiences are priceless.

New Image

Queening with the BaSotho women dressed in their traditional wear called Thebetha

“Venturing out of your comfort zone and learning about other people and cultures will teach you things about yourself and the world you won’t find in a textbook”



Enjoying a sunset cruise on the Vaal River. Picture by Paballo Thekiso.

One of my favourite Sho’t Left (domestic travels) trip include a visit to Joburg where I caught up with friends and family. On a recent trip there I spent a weekend in Soweto, which is home to some of South Africa’s world famous names, such as Nelson Mandela, and is known for history changing moments such as the 1976 Soweto student uprising.

During my stay there I visited the Mandela house in Vilakazi Street, a buzzing street lined with restaurants and cafés… a not so common sight for a township. There is an electrifying energy that hangs in the air that when I left, I felt empty .

Recently I paid a visit to my home town, but opted to stay at a hotel in the city centre instead of home as they were busy renovating. I saw Durban through the eyes of a tourist for the first time and I became one.

I visited art galleries, museums, took long leisurely walks on the beachfront promenade and discovered cafés where I spent hours watching people. I returned with a new-found appreciation for the city where people have no whims about striking up conversations with strangers. I realised how much I missed this simple act of ubuntu (human kindness) that is still alive there.


Last week I spent a week in the Free State visiting several towns. It was my first time there and I experienced a number of firsts. I learnt about towns I never knew existed, such as Vredefort near Parys.

I quad biked, I tried my hand at archery and went river rafting on the Vaal River. All these sporting activities were never on my to-do-list of fun things while on a holiday before this trip.

1. L-R Liam Joyce and Nontando Mposo river rafting in the Vaal RiverLiam and I slaying. Picture:Paballo Thekiso

September is tourism month, an annual celebration focusing on the importance of tourism for the economy. The theme for this year is Tourism For All: Promoting Universal Accessibility.

It aims to encourage everyone to explore and rediscover our country. So, round up a group of friends or family for a Sho’t Left somewhere.

Visit:www@shotleft.co.za for more travel inspiration. 


Connect with me and follow my adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @Nontando58. 

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on September 2016. 



Portraying the joy of African children


My favourite painting by South African contemporary artist Nelson Makamo is that of a young boy sporting a short afro and red glasses.
The expression on his face is pure joy… I can almost feel the warm laughter bubbling in his belly. Looking at the artwork brings back childhood memories of playing for hours without a care in the world. I have the image saved in my phone and I look at it each time I need a quick pick-me-up. It always makes me smile.

I tell Makamo this when I meet him at a Cape Town hotel for the interview and he smiles knowingly.
“When you think it, a lot of art that comes out of the continent, some would describe it as sombre or dark. However, come winter or summer it doesn’t matter, we always have the sun… that is the thing about Africa,” he says.


“It’s the beauty of how Africans smile through everything and that is how I look at my subjects and from a child’s perspective as well. It doesn’t matter where you go in the continent, when you find children playing there are similarities that take you back to your own childhood,” he says.

Makamo’s large-scale portraits of children display various features and personalities of quirkiness. Each lined sketch drawn in charcoal, watercolour or pen and ink is distinct and is often done in black and white with pops of colour.

At 34, the Joburg artist is one of South Africa’s celebrated talents. His paintings are worth thousands of rands with one of his drawings, So full of youth – not yet abused selling for R250 000 at a recent Stephan Welz & Co auction – a record for the artist at auction.


“As an adult there are a lot of things that we do that we pretty much fence ourselves around from, that we don’t feel or see certain things anymore. That free thinking and openness to learning we can only see it through the eyes of a child,” says Makamo.

Born in theLimpopo town of Nylstroom, now Modimolle, Makamo moved to Joburg to join the Artist Proof Studio in January 2003. There he studied on a bursary for three years and worked for another two as sales representative and curator of the gallery. He has since held solo exhibitions here at home and in France, Italy, the US, the Netherlands and Scotland.

His childhood was like any normal child raised in a small town environment, he says. Sundays were for church, weekdays were for school and his free time was spent reading Marvel comics such as Spider- Man and Iron Man… which planted the roots for his artistic talent.

“My stepdad pretty much made me the man that I am today. Being the only child in most cases there is this preconception that you are spoiled, but I never experienced that. During school holidays my parents would send me to my cousins so I sort of grew up with a lot of cousins around me,” he says.


“My love for art started early and was mostly influenced by cartoons. We collected a lot of Marvel comics at home… that is actually how it all started,” says Makamo.

He sold his first drawing in high school for R125.
“Most of my drawings then were about comics. I drew characters such as the Ninja Turtles and Batman and would show them to my peers.

Being an artist was not my first choice. In Grade 10 I decided that I wanted to be a chemical engineer, so after matric I briefly studied Engineering at the Vaal University of Technology.

“Three months into it I was like, “I don’t think I see myself as an engineer, this is not something that I want to pursue’.

“Looking at the communities we are raised in, one often doesn’t think that you can turn your Godgiven talent into a career. Some people even went as far as saying I should become a cartoonist , you get all sorts of advice,” says Makamo.



The beginning of his career was no walk in the park, he says.
“The first three years after graduating were not easy for both myself and my parents. They were always concerned about how I was going to make a living with art. It also didn’t help that there was little information on South African artists… there was no fully documented history of art that one could study. The focus is mostly on old masters, such as Pablo Picasso and Michelangelo.

“Digging deeper I discovered SA artists such as Gerard Sekoto and Dumile Feni, who belonged to a township movement of black artists. They became pretty much my influencers”

“Through their art you got to understand our country and where our cultures come from. This sort of gave me the confidence to say that I can make a living out of this. Most of them didn’t have proper materials to draw with so they used cheaper mediums such as charcoal and oil soft pastels.”

Makamo never leaves home without his camera and his “bible”, a small sketch book in which he scribbles things and sketches people who catch his eye.

“I always say that I am a storyteller because I live and see things from a third-person point of view. I draw mostly from memory, but sometimes I see a scene and I have to capture it quickly in my ’bible” or I use my camera.

“In my work I try to capture emotions in a language that the person next to me gets without me having to explain. It’s interesting if you think about it, how we are all connected.

“There are a lot of things that bring people together and a lot of those things you can only see through the eyes of a child,” says Makamo

“Children are the most forgiving beings. It is always heart-breaking when you travel or when you google African children, the images that they give you does not represent who we are, only that of poor and starving children.. it’s actually so disturbing when you think about it.

“I took it way too personal, that is why I started basing my work around it. It’s a way of saying, there is another version of an African child that I can give you.”

When some people ask me about my background, it’s almost as if they expect me to give them a poor background and take away the talent. I would be doing myself and the beautiful culture that I was raised in an injustice.  That is why I portray most of my subjects with glasses, as a way of saying they are geniuses, he explains

“Why do you look beyond us, judge us and have your own conclusion about us without sitting down and having a one-on one-conversation with us?

“The support I have from South Africans, regardless of who buys my work or not, is very inspiring and it is what drives me… makes me stand taller. It is as if people were waiting for someone to wipe away the stereotypes,” Makamo says. 

Nelson Makamo.JPG

l Find the artist Nelson Makamo on Instagram -@nelsonmakamo

This piece was first published in the Cape Argus on August 8 2016. 

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat: @Nontando58. 


Bringing the stylish hijab out of hiding

Pics by :Ferdinand Van Huizen- MUA:  Marietjie Hurter-Stylist:Roshan Isaacs

Pics by :Ferdinand Van Huizen- MUA: Marietjie Hurter-Stylist:Roshan Isaacs

The demand for “modest wear” is growing and a number of top designers are now branching out to cater for the untapped market of Muslim women who want to be glamorous and conservative at the same time.

New York-based fashion house DKNY did it first by creating a capsule collection for the Muslim holy month of Ramadaan last year, and other design powerhouses such as Oscar de la Renta and Tommy Hilfiger followed. On social media, several campaigns have been launched such as “I love hijab” which encourages women to post photos of themselves in full Islamic wear. What it has shown is that a number of young Muslim women are choosing to wear colourful and stylish hijabs instead of the traditional black. Roshan Isaacs, managing director and editor in chief for Style Africa Fashion Network, believes that modest wear in the fashion industry is still undervalued.

The online network is a portal for the latest trends in fashion, design and creative talent, and aims to inspire South Africans to buy locally designed and made products in order to develop and promote domestic talent.

“The market for modest clothing is a multibillion dollar industry yet a lot of designers have not tapped into it. Most Muslim women have to get their clothes custom-made in order to be on trend and that needs to change,” says Isaacs.

Isaacs was recently appointed the South Africa country manager for the Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC), the world’s leading modest fashion and design (art, architecture, interior) council representing the Islamic economy and its stakeholders. Her responsibilities include supporting and developing the modest wear fashion industry through services and initiatives intended to expand its platform in the country.

“One of the things I am working on is getting a collection of modest clothing on a runway. Modest clothing is a huge market that exists but has never been seen on a runway here and yet Muslim women are people who represent South Africa as well.

“Also, there are many designers who don’t know how to reach the market and my role is also to connect and train them to understand the market,” says Isaacs.

“Muslim women aren’t often seen in a positive light in our societies, but mostly viewed as oppressed for being forced to wear a scarf. My work is geared towards changing that perception. People wonder how I shop or how I manage to match my scarves with my outfits… I probably have enough scarves for the nation. It’s part of my wardrobe, my attire and so I incorporate them into my outfits,” she says.

Pics by :Ferdinand Van Huizen- MUA: Marietjie Hurter-Stylist:Roshan Isaacs

Pics by :Ferdinand Van Huizen- MUA: Marietjie Hurter-Stylist:Roshan Isaacs

Isaacs is a regular face at South African fashion weeks, and her immaculate fashion sense and colourful, beautifully wrapped turbans and scarves are highly praised and admired in fashion circles. I met her at a contemporary café in Claremont, close to her home from where she runs her online magazine.

Isaacs was born into the world of fashion as one of four daughters of Abobaker Isaacs, a talented designer who owned a fashion academy and designed for the likes of Gucci.

“My family tree includes Indian and Irish blood… my background is completely mixed. I feel like I am authentically South African because it’s the only country I know and I love it’s diversity… My one sister looks like an Arabian queen and the other one is a redhead. We are a very diverse family,” she explains.

“My father did couture and his parting gift to his daughters was our wedding dresses. He designed each of our wedding dresses and the nice thing about it is that he did it in a way that personified the relationship he had with each of us.

“Mine was gold with a high Victorian collar, which is what I love… I love the Victorian era.”

Pics by :Ferdinand Van Huizen- MUA: Marietjie Hurter-Stylist:Roshan Isaacs

Pics by :Ferdinand Van Huizen- MUA: Marietjie Hurter-Stylist:Roshan Isaacs

Launched in 2013, the online network is run by a team of industry experts who are passionate about promoting South Africa’s fashion talent, Isaacs explains.

“I have been in the broadcasting and media industry for about 20 years and it wasn’t giving me the fulfilment that I craved… of developing and training young people. My ‘aha’ moment came when I was standing in front of a magazine shelf and didn’t see any magazines which appealed to me as a South African.

“Besides being a Muslim woman, there weren’t any magazines that portrayed authentic South African fashion. Everything there was a syndication of the magazines from all over the world. I felt that we are not the East or the West, but are authentically African and have something to offer the world. That is why Europe and Indonesia are interested in what we have to offer, but we are not showcasing that,” says Isaacs.

“Building the company’s credibility in the fashion industry was of high importance. The company is now solely run by me – from curating to selecting stories, writing, social media and attending events. But when it gets too much I reel in my reinforcements who are always ready and willing to contribute wherever possible,” she says.

“I love media and I love broadcasting and so I married the two and created Style Africa Fashion Network as a media platform… It really was not about profitmaking but about exposing the industry to the rest of the world and building the country’s design label,” says Isaacs.

“My challenge is getting funders to see the investment opportunity in helping Style Africa market our proudly South African design industry and having them share the same passion and drive as I and so many South Africans do.”

Roshan Isaacs’ top 5 fashion tips

●I love turbans and scarves, not only draped on my head but used as a blouse. When I need to pack light for a holiday, an array of colourful scarves make for amazing blouses which you can fix up yourself with no buttons, stitching or zips required.

●Play around with colours – sometimes we think certain colours won’t go well together but when you play dress-up for the day, try colours which complement, contrast or are mismatched. You will find a new outfit created with colours you least expected would work.

●For an elegant and chic look, stick to clean lines and make a statement with colourful, bold or even edgy accessories – be it a bag, belt, shoes or earrings.

●Dress your size – it’ll fit and look a hundred times better than a body bulging at the seams of a tight-fitting outfit or you looking bigger in an oversized garment.

●No matter what you wear, always finish it off with confidence and a smile.

●Roshan Isaacs hosts The Modest Chapter for the IFDC on www.youtube.com and is also a presenter at the Voice of the Cape radio station. Visit the Style Africa Fashion Network at http://www.styleafrica.co.za or follow her on Instagram@RoshanIsaacs.

*This feature first appeared in the Cape Argus on November 9 2015.

Fashion creative blogs for Africa

Photo by Mark Manual May

Photo by Mark Manual May

Shiraz Reddy is a familiar face on the local fashion scene. From fashion weeks to fashion soirées, Reddy is there, always impeccably dressed. His passion for supporting and celebrating local creatives and designers is infectious and sets him apart from his peers. Having his hands in different pots – such as PR and events co-ordinating, broadcasting, blogging and styling – makes him a fashion and entertainment all-rounder.

“There is a lot of organic growth in the fashion industry at the moment. And instead of fashioning your brand to be like the next ‘top US retail brand’, South African designers and the industry as a whole are going back to our African roots, taking what we’ve grown and exhibiting it in the clothes we wear and the conversations we have about fashion. Also the trending fashion phrase is ‘prints is the new black’,” he says.

This is evident in Reddy’s latest fashion editorial titled Print Party, which features a mesh of bold and clashing prints and textures. The editorial currently on his blog, The Boy on the Park Bench was shot at the University of Cape Town with model Lesala Mampa.

“The editorial was inspired by the rich prints, textiles and the artistic flair I saw on the runways of SA Menswear Week and Cape Town Fashion week. The amazing African prints and textures on show took my love for prints to the next level.For the shoot I created wearable and attainable looks.“

“I always aim to educate my readers about ‘how to wear prints’ and the art of wearing ‘print-on-print’. I chose the UCT upper campus because of the negativity that has surrounded the campus of late… I saw it as a way of highlighting the greatness that still lives among those trees and walls,” says Reddy.

Also always try to keep the garments within their natural beauty as far as possible without losing the essence of the design and the location we’re shooting at,” he says.

Photo by by Mark Manual May

Photo by by Mark Manual May

The Boy on the Park Bench is the story of a boy sitting on the park bench observing his surroundings and sharing what he sees, explains Reddy, a Varsity College Pretoria graduate.

“I started the blog in 2010 as a way of expressing how I felt during a trying time of finding my feet in Cape Town and my chosen career path. It was a cold winter day and I was sitting in a park around the corner from my then flat in the southern suburbs.

“I decided that it was time for me to express myself and share my thoughts as a way of ‘dealing’ with what I was going through.

“I made the conscious decision to use it (blogging) as a way of expressing my honest opinion on fashion, the industry and its ever-changing dynamics that I get to experience first-hand on a daily basis. I blog for those who appreciate it but don’t have the time or resources to actively be a part of it,” Reddy says.

Describing himself as a braveheart because he is not afraid to take risks and to go where where others are too scared to go, the 28-year-old Reddy’s love for the creatives started at a young age.

“My parents always ensured we looked good and never skimped on buying my siblings and I the best clothes. I always appreciated new shoes and the opportunity to get all dressed up and to show off amongst my peers. At around age 9 I already knew the importance of a crisp white shirt and what it could do for your school uniform and any outfit in-general;” he says

Shiraz Reddy

Shiraz Reddy

“I’ve always enjoyed styling myself, planning outfits with my sisters and friends days before wearing them… I still do this to this day,” he says.

Reddy is inspired by photographers Trevor Stuurman and Theodore Afrika’s ability to capture beautiful imagery, as well as recording artist and producer Pharrell Williams’s sense of style and work within the fashion industry.

His list of notable fashion designers include Mzukisi Mabane of Imprint, Adriaan Kuiters, Craig Port and hip hop artist Kanye West.

“They push the envelope to spite stereotypes. I am also inspired by nature… how letting something grow organically can turn into a beautiful living thing. And the streets of Cape Town, how people here aren’t afraid to express their creative personalities through fashion,” says Reddy.

Photo  by Mark Manual May

Photo by Mark Manual May

One of the key things to making it as a creative in South Africa is to stay true to yourself, he says.

“Being adventurous when no one trusts you and trusting your own gut will go a long way. “Also, it’s not easy to get individuals and  brands to invest in your creativity because most are influenced by international trends and many are reluctant to help you pioneer new trends and ways of doing things;

“These for me are definite challenges. However, sticking to your guns, working like a beast and not forgetting the struggles and what you want to achieve and, that if you don’t do the work, no one else will, should lead you to maintaining a successful creative career.”

Photo by Mark Manual May

Photo by Mark Manual May

His message for aspiring fashion stylists is: “Never doubt yourself because then the client and team will doubt you too. Trial and error is okay… learn to accept mistakes but do your research well in advance and as detailed as possible… because God is in the detail.”

●Reddy’s blog link: https://theboyontheparkbench. wordpress.com

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on October 9 2015

Portraits share hope of addicts in recovery

Photographer Fiona McCosh, hopes to address the stigma that surrounds people who seek treatment for addiction through her "Sober and Sexy" project, a series of portraits that is currently on display at the Issi café on Bree Street

Photographer Fiona McCosh, hopes to address the stigma that surrounds people who seek treatment for addiction through her “Sober and Sexy” project, a series of portraits that is currently on display at the Issi café on Bree Street Cape Town. 

Stigma remains the biggest barrier faced by many seeking addiction treatment, making it harder for individuals and families to deal with their problems and get the help they need, says photographer Fiona McCosh.

British-born McCosh is trying to address this through a Sober and Sexy project, a series of portraits that is currently on display at the Issi café on Bree Street. The photographs are also part of a 2016 calendar of the same title, featuring individuals who are in long-term recovery from addictions such as alcoholism, gambling, eating and sex.

“I just don’t think enough people are talking about recovery… it’s still very hush-hush. One of my main motivations for this project is to encourage people to talk openly about recovery. It’s to say ‘let’s get vocal and let’s start talking about both addiction and recovery’,” she says.

picture by photographer Fiona McCosh

picture by photographer Fiona McCosh

“With the project I wanted to focus on recovery, look at the joys of recovery and the hope that there is for people to get to recovery. I think almost everyone knows someone who is in recovery or who has an addiction problem, but we just don’t talk about it because of stigma. My aim is not to name and shame, but I want to encourage people to get help and to know there is no shame in getting help… to say ‘let’s get out there and be proud to be sober and sexy’,” McCosh says

I meet McCosh at the trendy eatery where the 12 black and white portraits in her series hang on the walls. She is also a recovering addict, and appears in the calendar for the month of September.

McCosh was 39 years old when she reached “rock bottom”.

“I had a problem with alcohol all my life and I am an addict. I did get physically addicted to several drugs of choice and towards the end I was into a cocktail, moving from one drug to another. When one drug stopped working I would try another one… it’s called crossed addiction,” she says.

“At my rock bottom, I felt ugly and hopeless and was in a state of terror for my body as I was combining street drugs and prescription drugs… I was miserable, but I was just about coping. When I hit rock bottom I was given six months to live. They often say don’t deny someone that rock bottom because that is where you get the gift of desperation.”

“I was a mess and I couldn’t see a way out and that’s when I rang my mother and she took me to rehab in the UK. That didn’t work out and it was suggested that I come to South Africa,” she explains.

Picture by photographer Fiona McCosh

Picture by photographer Fiona McCosh

McCosh says she came to Cape Town for rehab in 2010. With only a backpack,
she was planning to stay for just a month.

“I never intended to stay this long, I have friends here now… it’s a clean slate. What is there not to love about Cape Town? The weather is great, the mountains, the sea and it’s cheaper than London… it’s my new home,” she says.

sober and sexy 2

But she’s also learnt that recovery is not easy.  “Recovery can be a frightening place in the early days. It is hard to trust people, an emotional rawness seems ever-present and often it feels as if life will always be this way. In time, with help, we can and do recover.

With this project I wanted to give back to the recovery community,” says McCosh.

The idea of a naked calendar came from the true story of The Calendar Girls, a hit movie about a group of British women who produced a nude calendar to raise money for leukaemia research.

“I tried to get as wide a variety of people in the exhibition as possible because addiction does not discriminate. Anyone can get it and it doesn’t matter where you are from. If you want recovery you can find it in the 12-step programme.

“This is my experience in terms of getting clean and pretty much all of the models featured in the calendar have gone have gone through hell, I have been through hell,” she explains.

“The images represent a positive message of hope and my deepest wish is that people who think that they might have a problem or know someone who has a problem are encouraged to seek help,” says McCosh.

“I think that most people generally think that once an addict, always an addict, but we can live happy, free and joyous lives. I am now free from cravings. I have a full life with friends, genuine friends, whereas in the past I only had the drinking and the using.

“It was a miserable existence, but now I have peace and serenity… not only am I clean but I am treating myself with respect and I get a decent night’s sleep.”

The Sober and Sexy calendars cost R200 each. They are available at Issi and nationwide at http://www.soberand sexy.co.za. All proceeds will be donated to the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre for the treatment of those who can’t afford it.

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on October 5 2015.

Symbolism… and ‘an eye for for the unusual’

'In with the new' by Justin Dingwall

‘In with the new’ by Justin Dingwall

Recognised locally and internationally for his portraiture, contemporary artist and commercial photographer Justin Dingwall describes himself as someone who possesses “an eye for the unusual, a passion to explore avenues less travelled and the desire to create images that resonate with emotion”.

The Joburg-based Dingwall recently exhibited a series of portraits, Albus at the FNB Joburg Art Fair held at the Sandton Convention Centre last month, featuring a series of striking photographs of Durban- born model Sanele Xaba, who has albinism.

Dingwall also made the top 10 list of visual artists in The Absa L’Atelier Art Competition 2014, an annual art award competition for South African visual artists between the ages of 21 and 35. The Tshwane University of Technology graduate says the imagery he creates is not bound by language or culture. Instead, he wants his work to speak for itself and for people to interpret it in their own way.

Dingwall explains more about his work and what inspires him.

Sanele Xaba by Justin Dingwall

Sanele Xaba by Justin Dingwall

How did you start the craft of photography? I have always been very artistic, but the first time I picked up a camera was at the age of 18 when I applied to Tshwane University of Technology.

Tell us about the ‘Albus” portrait series, what inspired it and what message did you hope to communicate with it?   The discourse about albinism is generally avoided as taboo in the South African context. When discussed, it is usually viewed as negative or as a sought-after “oddity” in fashion and art trends. My aim is to create an intimate perspective to foreground the myths surrounding albinism.

“This series developed into an exploration of the aesthetics of albinism in contrast to the idealised perceptions of beauty.”

It began as an interest to capture something not conventionally perceived as “beauty”. I began this project with the ethereal portraits of Thando Hopa, a legal prosecutor who is using her visibility to address the negative perceptions surrounding albinism. The inspiring new work features Xaba, a young model with albinism, and uses specific elements to foreground the symbolic meaning behind each work.

“My intention is for the images to become a celebration of beauty in difference. They are not about race or fashion, but about perception, and what we subjectively perceive as beautiful.”

I wanted to create a series of images that resonate with humanity and make people question what is beautiful… to me diversity is what makes humanity interesting and beautiful. The symbols of light and dark are a reflection of my medium.

I use the characteristic nature of photography to capture a unique frame of reference and paint with light in such a way as to represent the revealing of the unseen.

Light represents truth, and it is contrasted against the element of darkness to emphasise the unenlightened state of mind of previous misconceptions.

Water is another element l use to reflect society’s perceptions. Water suggests self reflection and it is often used in literature as a symbol of change.

'Reveal' by Justin Dingwall

‘Reveal’ by Justin Dingwall

The snake connotes transformation – as in the shedding of old skin to make way for new and also, as in medical discourse, to represent healing. The butterflies aim to influence the
viewer’s vision to be transformed, allowing them to view albinism in a new light – as something unique and beautiful.

'Mob' by Justin Dingwall

‘Mob’ by Justin Dingwall

“Butterflies go through a major metamorphosis, and embrace change unquestioningly. For this reason, they have become symbols of growth, surrender, transition, celebration, resurrection and fragility.”

What would you list as your best accomplishments?  My career highlights include my Albus exhibition, which is a major milestone, shooting for Adobe (The creators of Photoshop and Indesign) and creating a mosaic with 48 other artists from around the world that was exhibited at the Lincoln Centre in New York for the launch of Adobe Creative Cloud, and winning the image and magazine cover of the year 2015 at the Caxton awards. And that I have exhibited in London, Seattle, South Africa and New York.

What is your favourite photo shoot you have done over the years and why?  There are way too many to count, but one that really stands out was when I flew to Zanzibar for a week to photograph the actress Terry Pheto from the movie Tsotsi for a magazine cover, inside story, as well as a portrait shoot of a fishing village on the north coast of Zanzibar.

Embrace 2

What/who inspires you and now? Every day life inspires me, but I also do a lot of research. I am inspired by many great artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Lucian Freud, Charles Thomas “Chuck” Close and Eloy Morales.

And photographers Richard Avedon and Roger Ballen.

Before I became a photographer I was an assistant for four years, and learnt from many local, as well as international, photographers the craft of photography.

But if I have to single out two photographers that have influenced my career, it would be Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz.

“Their dedication, time spent crafting, researching, production and planning to produce a single photograph is very inspiring.”

A place in the world that you have not been you would like to photograph? Without question, India. It looks like an engaging, colourful, chaotic, beautiful country. I have heard from friends and family that it engages all of your senses – all of them, nearly all of the time. I also have a soft spot for Italy.

What are the greatest challenges to making it as a photographer or an artist in South Africa?  As a freelance photographer you can never sit on your laurels, if you aren’t working you aren’t earning. You constantly have to be promoting yourself and getting your work out into the market.

“The very early mornings and the very late nights. But one of the most important things is to be a problem solver. You have to be able to think on your feet.”

What cameras do you use and how important is photoshop to your final images? I use both digital and film. When I shoot film I use a Hasselblad medium format camera and when I shoot digital I use Canon or Hasselblad.

When I started studying and working as a photographer there were no digital cameras, only film. So it was very important to get everything 100 percent correct before shooting. I still live by that principle, but Photoshop is an important tool.

Justin Dingwall

Justin Dingwall

Who is a young or emerging photographer or artist you consider one to watch at the moment?   Tony Gum. I recently viewed her work at the FNB Joburg Arts Fair and she is creating some amazing self-portraits.

        “I live by these two quotes: Gary Player: “The harder I work, the luckier I get,” and “You reap what you sow.”

This feature first appeared in the Cape Argus on September 30 2015.

The Ruff Tung legacy lives on through a designer duo.

It has been almost two years since fashion designer Jean-Paul Botha died at age 43. Botha, the founder and creative director of the Ruff Tung label, was one of the country’s most sought-after fashion designers in the ’90s, whose creative talent saw him develop his brand from an edgy label to a high fashion house that enjoyed appearances at several major fashion weeks across the country.

But then the Durban-born designer’s death left a huge gap in the fashion industry. Fast forward to today and Botha’s Ruff Tung legacy lives on through the talented designer duo, Bridget Pickering and Ludwig Bausch. Last month, the fashion house staged their first runway showcase – since Botha’s death – at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT).

Picture by SDR Photo

Picture by SDR Photo

We interviewed Pickering and Bausch at their office in Kenilworth. Mentored by Botha, Pickering started out in the industry as a story board designer for a trims and accessory business.

“I played on the edge of fashion in my early years, but I became serious about my career once I moved to London. My first role was for the iconic store Liberty where I was introduced to the world of incredible designs,” she says.

For Bausch, a Durban University of Technology fashion and textile design graduate, his first job in fashion was as Botha’s pattern maker. Now at the helm of what was his creation, the designers described their MBFWCT showcase as a “defining moment “ for the brand.

“The show was our official launch as a local Cape Town brand and more importantly as a tribute to Botha,” says Pickering

“We received an emotional standing ovation, proving that Botha’s creative legacy and DNA lives on through our continued hard work and in every design element of our collection,” she adds.

The talented designer duo, Bridget Pickering and Ludwig Bausch. Picture by SDR Photo

The talented designer duo, Bridget Pickering and Ludwig Bausch. Picture by SDR Photo

What were your inspirations for your SS16 collection? Our collection titled Mirror Mirror on the wall – Reflections has inspired our passion for print on print this SS16 season. A simple silhouette viewed “through the looking glass” to create multiple angles to dress multiple shapes, the designs offer women a dynamic balance between looking effortless, comfortable and stylish all in one piece. We have specifically developed our own prints for this collection, creating an inspirational visual feast through a kaleidoscope of shapes – an eclectic mix of monochrome, directional print blocking and always a bolt of vibrant colour. Simplicity is always the focus in our designs, creating a modern energy for the modern Ruff Tung woman.

How did you select the materials and colours? Our past and present has had a long love affair with statement prints. Tamarind Textiles came to the rescue with some beautiful prints exclusive to Ruff Tung. A strong design trait of ours is to colour and print block to create a flattering silhouette for our women. We believe that our prints and statement colour, deep cobalt, will set us apart from our competitors and make us the go to brand for woman of all shapes and sizes.

Describe the woman you envision wearing your clothes? Our designs, like the woman we dress, are ageless. The Ruff Tung women have busy lives, they want to have fun while looking good. Effortless and no fuss styling is key and our modern Ruff Tung woman appreciates this. We sell frocks, casual sophistication, easy-to-wear fashion and classic with a contemporary twist.

Who are your most influential fashion designers, and why? Our current influential designers are American fashion stylist Rachel Zoe for her effortless style, designer Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) for her business prowess and longevity, London’s leading retail marketing consultant Mary Portas for her ability to dress “real women” and Victoria Beckham for being a late fashion bloomer and taking the fashion world by storm.

Ruff Tung Lookbook

Ruff Tung Lookbook

What is your opinion on “high fashion” and do you aspire to becoming a popular high-end fashion label? We would love to be popular and be the go-to designer brand.

“Our aim would be to provide the combination of an affordable ready-to-wear collection, plus a “high end” more exclusive offering for those special luxury pieces.”

You have quite big shoes to fill: how do you ensure that the label still represents Jean-Paul Botha’s legacy? We have registered the business as “Tribute by Ruff Tung”, so not only are we a daily working tribute to the man who opened the fashion doors and gave us this opportunity, but we are working to achieve all the goals and aims that we agreed to as a team before he passed away.

Botha and ourselves started to streamline the business from a niché occasion wear brand to a more retail commercial business and this is what we will continue to do.

“We design with an honest approach to what women want.”

Picture by SDR Photo

Picture by SDR Photo

Picture by SDR Photo

Picture by SDR Photo

What can be done to encourage people to buy local or support local designers?
We don’t feel that the average consumer knows how many talented local designers are out there. Local fashion publications need to promote local more… it would be amazing to see a larger variety of local brands in the press.

There is a place for both local and international brands, but the more we support local, the more positive the impact on local manufacturing industry.

What trends do you currently see in the fashion industry?

“The current trends include the boho look and we are seeing a lot of off-the shoulder action, jumpsuits, as well as statement prints.”

What are your future plans for the brand? We will continue to build on our business, branching from E-tail into more retail opportunities. There is a demand for effortless, chic plus-size styles and we are all about dressing women across the fashion board.

What advice do you have for other aspiring fashion designers?

“This fashion business is not for sissies, so get a good background in business and a good mentor who will show you the business from the ground up.”

●Ruff Tung is sold at online shops E-Tail, Spree and Zando, and several shops nationwide such as The Bromwell.

This feature first was first published in the Cape Argus on September 29 2015.