Tim Hopwood



LAST is the culmination of a body of work that began with some urban landscapes taken in the year 1992. They really laid the seeds for this entire body of work, begun when I returned to live there, in 1997. I began to photograph the city again... 2002
...I experienced a rebirth of sorts, for I had never managed to summon any desire to photograph Cape Town, where I had resided in the intervening years. Now it all returned. I began to feel that the empty streets and lonely skies I was now drawn to, were somehow symbols of the collective unconscious of this town that murdered Steven Biko. Sometimes, driving through its deserted and decaying industrial areas on Sundays, I felt that these spaces spoke of something that has been slowly suffocated, and that in some way they held up some kind of mirror, even on a simple aesthetic level, to the miles and miles of bland suburbs of suburban Port Elizabeth. I took this show to Cape Town for the second Month of Photography. This was the text I wrote for the catalogue of the festival: I used to think these photographs were just about Port Elizabeth. I saw Port Elizabeth as a cold place, its soul windswept and barren. I felt its heart to be one of darkness, full of dark secrets: the place where Steven Biko was murdered. Every city has a heart, architecturally. If you walk around the heart of our city, you will see its condition. It is dark. A monstrous concrete freeway shuts out the sky. Where there were once gardens outside the city hall, now there is brick paving. So much beauty has been destroyed in the name of progress. None of us like to come here anymore, to sit and bake in the unrelenting heat of the brick paving, or shiver with cold in the wind that blows beneath the freeway. So if I were to say these images are about the heart of Port Elizabeth, there would be a grain of truth in it. But what of the heart we cannot see, the collective heart? Perhaps my images of empty streets and lonely skies symbolise this heart. No-one can tell me that we are not estranged from each other; black from white, male from female. We stand on our differences and point fingers at each other. The problem is with them. If they would change, everything would be okay. And so there comes into being a no-man’s land of the heart, a place within us, collectively, that we yearn to bridge, but which remains largely uninhabited. This, in some respects, is where my images come from.

Tim Hopwood is represented by the PH Centre, Cape Town.

To order prints, contact Simone Tredoux: 021 461 3904, simone@phcentre.co.za, www.phcentre.co.za