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Photographs and Images

The photographic archive in Special Collections has material that spans a period from the inception of photography to the present day, from fragile prints to digital format. Fox Talbot’s Pencil of Nature is a rare body of work that found its way to the African continent. Many of the early photographs are of Cape Town and its surrounds, reflecting its architecture, environment, and the city’s early development. There is also a considerable archive reflecting UCT’s memory and history.

The archive houses social history and anthropology collections of Bleek and Lloyd, Hunter-Wilson and Martin West. New material from the 1950s to contemporary times includes the archives of Jürgen Schadeberg and Ernest Cole. Other seminal collections complement the early historic images: The Cordoned Heart, an investigation into poverty and development; Beyond the Barricades, an anthology documenting resistance to apartheid; the Staffrider exhibitions; as well as photographers such as Guy Tillim, Greg Marinovich, Cedric Nunn, George Hallett, Paul Grendon, Chris Ledochowski, Graeme Williams, and others.

We are also engaged in projects that aim to keep the archive alive and in conversation with the South African heritage and memory: Underexposed is a collection of highly significant but off-the-radar photographers; The Other Camera is an anthology of vernacular photography; while the Ernest Cole Award supports contemporary South African photography.

For more information about the collections please contact Michal Singer.