Archive: Issue No. 67, March 2003

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Angela Buckland

Angela Buckland
Beach and Pier, Wales, UK (1989)
colour print
305mm x 406mm

Angela Buckland

Angela Buckland
Kruger's Day, Brand Road, Durban (1994)
colour print
305mm x 406mm

Angela Buckland

Angela Buckland
Sleep series (1995-2001)
4 x 5" Selenium toned, fibre based contact prints
205mm x 250mm.

Angela Buckland

Angela Buckland
Block A, Jacobs Men's Hostel (detail) (2002)
Machine Jumbo Prints
Complete work, 480mm x 19 metres
Individual prints �101mm x 150mm

Angela Buckland

Angela Buckland
Sticky Tape Juice Collection (detail) (2002)
Digital Duratrans
795mm x 950mm

Angela Buckland

Angela Buckland
Where's Nikki? (installation detail of Where's Nikki? in 'Zip Zip My Brain Harts' NSA Gallery) (2002)
Lambda digital prints
1270mm x 4m

Angela Buckland

Angela Buckland
Self portrait of Angela Buckland (detail from the Where's Nikki? series) (2002)
Lambda digital print
1270mm x 4m

Angela Buckland

Angela Buckland
detail from the
Where's Nikki? series (2002)
Lambda digital print
1270mm x 4m

Angela Buckland

Angela Buckland
Adidas in Steinkopf (1998)
from the series for 'blank____Architecture, apartheid and after'
12x16 prints

Angela Buckland

where's nikki detail = Angela Buckland
detail from the
Where's Nikki? series (2002)
Lambda digital prints
1270mm x 4m

Angela Buckland

wheres nikki = Angela Buckland
Where's Nikki? (detail) (2002)
Lambda digital prints
1270mm x 4m

Angela Buckland
by Virginia MacKenny (March, 2003)

Angela Buckland is an independent photographer interested in the private histories of seemingly ordinary people. She rejects the term documentary� to describe her work because she sees the category as loaded with a particular socio-political bias in South Africa. It also seems inadequate to describe the way she engages with her subjects where she seeks an emotional veracity rather than an objective� truth.

Initially influenced by British photographer Martin Parr whose images of British society reveal both its comic and tragic sides, Buckland's response to a photographic situation is often fast and intuitive - a question of seeing the image and acting in the moment. This approach has produced some of her most memorable single images such as the geometrically refined Beach and Pier, Wales, UK (1989) and evocative Kruger's Day, Brand Rd (1994).

She likes the level of tolerance that making one�s own work allows, there are no rules as such and the challenges are all self-generated. Many of the self-imposed constraints that Buckland operates under, such as the four frames she gave herself for The Sleep Series, a series depicting sleeping couples, and the one minute and single frame she allowed herself for each bed in Block A Jacobs Hostel in Durban, are pragmatic rather than conceptual. For instance the sheer number of beds to be taken in the hostel series dictated the manner in which she worked, fast and intuitively.

In her commercial work she says that her clients enjoy the glamour so she works in a different, carefully calculated way, framing images to specifically achieve the desired look. In her own work she sees this kind of manipulation as unnecessary and running somewhat counter to her sense of personal intent. While her own work is also sometimes highly constructed she notes that there is a certain challenge in trying to find something in which there at first appears absolutely nothing.

Juggling domestic life with two small children, lecturing photography part-time and engaging with selective commercial work she describes her life as chaotic' and sees it as somewhat counterproductive. At the same time, however the chaos of this lived experience and the stories and events that inform it have prompted much of her more recent work, such as 'Zip Zip My Brain Harts', her solo debut show seen at the NSA Gallery in Durban.

Central to this show are two bodies of work, Where is Nikki? and the Sticky Tape Juice Collection, both of which focus on a quietly marginalised subject� presented in a public space in order to articulate the submerged, concealed and silent anxieties that families of disabled children experience. For Buckland, herself the parent of a special needs child, the dream of an idyllic childhood promised by Pampers Nappies and Woolworths advertising are disrupted by the disclosure of disability, accompanied by fraught emotions.

The show took two years of preparation and much self-resolve to find a useful framework in which to undertake the work. Eschewing straight documentary Buckland entered imaginatively into the private terrain of parents of special needs children. Exposing her experiences with her own child, Nikki, the work avoids voyeurism by its interior knowledge of the subject. Working, in equality, with other parents and their children Buckland drew on a psychological framework as well as the writings and practices of British photographer Jo Spence, known particularly for her work in the field of photo-therapy.

Buckland notes that the images are not didactic, nor bound to any documentary truths. She has taken the liberty of inserting images from one family's experience into those about another's story, attempting to articulate the common experiences that they share with their different' children. Working digitally and presenting the works vertically on a large scale (1270mm x 4m), the monumentally of the work asserts this material and makes it spoken'. Emotionally brave, critically informed and technically challenging the show opened up discussion on the intimate arena of parenting a special needs child.


During the last ten years my photographic interests have included teaching, commercial work, as well as some personal explorations. It's always difficult to resolve the tension between the needs of commercial work and my own individual practice. I was originally predominantly drawn to the found situation where I engaged with colour and was mindful of Martin Parr's work. This was a spontaneous and particular way of looking at the world, observing, commenting and responding. Gradually though, I found working with single images limited and, ultimately, it was about looking outwards. I came, instead, to trust an inner instinct more.

In recent years with the actuality of being a mother and a demanding domestic life, I have gravitated towards simpler subjects, concerning the home and close activities. The death of a friend in 2002 prompted me to redirect my practice and explore a number of issues close to home that had been in my head for some time. The result was 'Zip Zip My Brain Harts'.

The lived experience of everyday situations and looking inwards offers generous possibilities. My work has become more process based and I have developed the confidence to see the value in simplicity. Working this way is more significant to me; it is honest, open-ended and challenging.


Buckland is currently trying to raise funds to tour her debut solo show, 'Zip Zip My Brain Harts'' to other centres, including Cape Town or Johannesburg.

In 2002 Buckland had four works selected from The Sleep Series by the Trinity Session for the Big Brother house where they occupied a place in the women's bedroom. Originally presented as a complete series for the Month of Photography in the Cape Town Castle last year The Sleep Series was seven years in the making. Depicting a range of individuals in bed, it was prompted by a request from a friend whose wife was pregnant. Wishing to avoid the obvious sentimentality attached to pregnancy Buckland allowed her subjects to set themselves up as they wished on a mattress in the middle of a room in her home. The bed itself seemed to encourage a rare level of relaxation in front of the camera, some subjects actually falling asleep. Buckland suspended the camera from the ceiling, iconically framing the mattress in the centre of the image, allowing for a play between a formal and informal vocabulary. More images followed with Buckland working with people she knew and who trusted her. Her parents, her aunt, and interesting' friends all posed providing intimate portraits of not only individuals but also their relationships. Recorded on a bulky 4x5 camera, the process was slow and a labour-intensive exercise.

In 1999 Buckland participated in a Nordic cultural exchange project producing the Dysmorphic Series for X-scape' that marked the beginning of her exploration of the topic of disability. The subject was close to home' - each image derives its title from a particular physical abnormality' her son Nikki presents. She found the work cathartic, especially at a time when Nikki was being subjected to endless medical investigation.

In 1998 Buckland was asked by Hilton Judin, who knew her Kruger's Day, Brand Rd (1994) to participate in the celebrated exhibition blank____Architecture, Apartheid and After'. The show, predicated on an examination of structures built during the apartheid, was exhibited both locally and in Berlin and Rotterdam. For the project Buckland was asked to get a sense of the community around significant buildings in the country and at one point found herself in the Western Cape settlement of Steinkopf - a town 500km from Cape Town with 6000 inhabitants. Here she engaged with one of the first community buildings in the country, the Steinkopf Community Centre, designed by Roelof Uytenbogaardt and built in 1978.


Initially trained as a painter Buckland admits to being an unsuccessful student in the Fine Arts and it wasn't until Obie Oberholzer taught her photography that she began to see a place for her vision. Encouraged by Oberholzer she enrolled at Technikon Natal for a Diploma in Photography where, in her final year, she walked away with the Emma Smith Award for Overseas Travel. Taking her Masters in Art (Photography) at Birmingham Polytechnic she was shocked to find the English went through film like toilet paper. Coming from a background where resources were limited she returned to this country fired by a passion to set up a photographic resource for other photographers. Thus was born, with the aid of Paul Weinberg, the Durban Centre for Photography (DCP), the first photo resource of its kind in the country, a place that provided both space and resources for local photographers.

Buckland will be exhibiting Block A Jacobs Hostel in Show Me Home' at the JAG in April, an exhibition curated by Wits MA student Mads Dambso. Continuing to open up the discussion precipitated by Zip Zip My Brain Harts' SABC 2 are commissioning a half hour documentary to be called Looking for Nikki, with the families from Where's Nikki? This will give national exposure to a topic rarely aired.

Buckland also has a number of projects in the pipeline: a follow up to the men's hostel in the investigation of a Durban women's hostel, an examination of the rites of passage families encounter with their first dog (tentatively titled A Tail of 5, and further down the line are plans for a photographic book.



Selected Exhibitions:

2003: Show Me Home, (curated by Mads Damsbo), Block A Jacobs Hostel, Johannesburg Art Gallery.
2002: Zip Zip My Brain Harts, solo exhibition at the N.S.A. Gallery, Durban.
Big Brother, four works selected by The Trinity Session for the house.
Month of Photography' Sleep series in the Castle, Cape Town.
2000: Emotions and Relations, (curated by Hentie van der Merwe) Sandton Art Gallery, Johannesburg, and Klein Karoo Festival.
1999: X-scape' photography in a new South Africa, N.S.A. Gallery, Durban; Museum Africa, Johannesburg; The Cellar, Cape Town and Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki.
D.D.E. winter collection, photographer and designer collaboration, N.S.A. Gallery, Durban.
Lines of Sight: Perspectives on South African Photography, (curated by Marilyn Martin, Geoff Grundlingh, Cedric Nunn), SA National Gallery, Cape Town
1998: blank _______ Architecture, apartheid and after' Netherlands Architectural Institute, Rotterdam; Berlin, Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Taking pictures' (curated by Karen Harber & Ruth Sack) Gertrude Posel Gallery, Johannesburg.
1997: Stuttgart meets Durban, Durban meets Stuttgart, Art Gallery, Durban Institute of Technology, Durban and then travelled to Stuttgart.
Jabulisa' (curated by Durban Art Gallery), Dakawa Art Centre, Grahams town; Standard bank Gallery, Johannesburg; Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg and Durban Art Gallery, Durban.
Present Tense: Photoworks from South Africa', (curated by Susanne Ramsenthaler), Andrew Grant Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland.
PhotoSynthesis, (curated by the SANG), S.A. National Gallery, Cape Town; Standard Bank Festival, Grahamstown, and toured nationally.
1995: Peoples Portraits, in collaboration with the Mail and Guardian, S.A. National Gallery, Cape Town.
Meeting Grounds' Durban Centre for Photography, B.A.T. Centre, Durban.
Volkskas Atelier National Exhibition, N.S.A. Gallery, Overport, Durban.
1994: Volkskas Atelier National Exhibition', Stellenbosch.
No Mans Land, (curated by the Durban Art Gallery), Durban Art Gallery, Durban.
1991: Staff Exhibition', Art Gallery, Durban Institute of Technology, Durban.
1989: Birmingham Polytechnic Masters Degree Show' Birmingham Polytechnic, Birmingham, U.K.
1988: Birmingham Polytechnic Student Exhibition', House of Commons, London, U.K.
1987: Cape Triennial, S.A. National Gallery, Cape Town.


Durban Art Gallery; S.A. National Gallery; B.A.T. Centre; Birmingham Polytechnic; Finnish Museum of Photography.
Prints held in a number of local and international private collections, namely, UK, Italy, USA, and Finland.


Sudheim, Alex, Art South Africa, Bell-Roberts Publishing, Cape Town, Volume 01, Issue 02, Summer 2002.
Dodds, David, Portfolio South Africa, Published by David Dodds, 2002.
Greaves, Katy, BLUEPRINT, Architecture, Design and Contemporary Culture, No 198, August 2002, Published by ETP Ltd, Chelmsford, UK.
Judin And Vladislavic (ed.), Blank ______ Architecture, apartheid and after', Rotterdam; NAi Publishers, Rotterdam, 1998.


Alan Alborough
(July 2000)
Jane Alexander
(July 1999)
Siemon Allen
(June 2001)
Willie Bester
(Aug 1999)
Willem Boshoff
(Aug 2001)
Conrad Botes
(Dec 2001)
Andries Botha
(April 2000)
Kevin Brand
(June 1998)
Candice Breitz
(Oct 1998)
Lisa Brice
(Jan 1999)
Pitso Chinzima
(Oct 2001)
Marco Cianfanelli
(Aug 2002)
Steven Cohen
(May 1998)
Leora Farber
(May 2002)
Bronwen Findlay
(April 2002)
Kendell Geers
(June 2002)
Linda Givon
(Dec 1999)
David Goldblatt
(Dec 2002)
Thembinkosi Goniwe
(Oct 2002)
Brad Hammond
(Jan 2001)
Randolph Hartzenberg
(Aug 1998)
Kay Hassan
(Oct 2000)
Stephen Hobbs
(Dec 1998)
Robert Hodgins
(June 2000)
William Kentridge
(May 1999)
Isaac Khanyile
(Nov 2001)
Dorothee Kreutzfeld
(Jan 2000)
Terry Kurgan
(Aug 2000)
Moshekwa Langa
(Feb 1999)
Mandla Mabila
(Sept 2001)
Veronique Malherbe
(June 1999)
Mustafa Maluka
(July 1998)
Senzeni Marasela
(Feb 2000)
Santu Mofokeng
(July 2002)
Zwelethu Mthethwa
(April 1999)
Thomas Mulcaire
(April 2001)
Brett Murray
(Sept 1998)
Hylton Nel
(Feb 2002)
Karel Nel
(Oct 1999)
Walter Oltmann
(July 2001)
Malcolm Payne
(Nov 2002)
Tracy Payne
(Mar 1998)
Peet Pienaar
(Dec 2000)
Jo Ractliffe
(Mar 1999)
Robin Rhode
(Nov 1999)
Tracey Rose
(Mar 2001)
Claudette Schreuders
(Sept 2000)
Berni Searle
(May 2000)
Berni Searle (update)
(Jan 2003)
Usha Seejarim
(May 2001)
Penny Siopis
(Sept 1999)
Dave Southwood
(Mar 2002)
Doreen Southwood
(Sept 2002)
Greg Streak
(Feb 2001)
Clive van den Berg
(Nov 1998)
Hentie van der Merwe
(Mar 2000)
Strijdom van der Merwe
(Jan 2002)
Minnette Vári
(Feb 1998)
Diane Victor
(Feb 2003)
Jeremy Wafer
(Nov 2000)