A most insightful and empowering interview undertaken by Gerry Pelser of the incomparable Mz Grethe Rosseaux. The face of photography is slowly but surely changing from a male dominated and egocentric arena to a platform where women can embrace their equally talented abilities and showcase them without being intimidated by brawn and technical know-how.
Grethe's sass, intelligence and strength at 27 is admirable, she is the epitome of all that is powerful in a woman and I can appreciate how open minded, assertive and strong-willed she is. She is nobody's push over and has taken on the task of being a voice for the ones who are too afraid to speak up. She has recently created a Facebook group SA Women Photographers that has tipped the scale of demand in it's second day of existence for something that can only do good for the ladies in South Africa who wish to use this platform as a spring-board of growth and freedom to be themselves without threat. This is not a feminist group, it's a safe place that embraces feminine talent, strength and ability so although it is a WOMEN ONLY group it does not in any way dictate that all men are savages. We love our men...sometimes it's just necessary to have separate spaces.
Check it out: Women in Photography
I learned a really valuable lesson today. I took this photograph and went to my husband and asked him, "Now don't you think this is more interesting and beautiful than the norm?" He looked at me like I'd lost my mind and said, "NO! It's dying and decaying". I was so pissed off with his answer that I walked away without saying anything in response and went back to photographing my decaying flower. I could not understand how he could not see what I saw. And no amount of my trying or forcing to convince him otherwise was going to change it. And therein lies the answer; he is not me and I am not him. Everything about my life and his life was and is different even though we now share the same living space. We are two completely divergent creatures who do not share the likeness of what we each deem as beautiful. Somehow we co-exist, loving each other fiercely and I cannot be angry at him because he doesn't see the beauty in a decaying flower, it doesn't make him wrong...it just makes him different. Something that takes patience and compassion to understand and accept because we all try to force ourselves, our beliefs and ideas on others in one way or another now don't we?
Today I’m wishing you lots of love, not necessarily the cards and flowers kind of love, but the love that you feel because someone believes in you, somebody supports your dreams and cares about the things that you do. I hope you have the love that has seen you at your worst, but keeps on loving you; and that the love that sees your best and bursts with pride for you. I hope that someone cares about the little things, and notices when you’re not 100%, and is there with support instead of criticism, and really listens to your problems, giving empathy and hugs rather than advice and solutions. I hope that you are loved so that you feel the strength of someone beside you, and the courage that facing things together can give you. I hope that your smile is someone’s favourite view and that your laughter is their favourite sound too. I hope someone makes you sparkle, even on the days it’s especially hard to do, but that someone knows the way to your heart even when you’re obscuring the view. I hope that you are loved for who you are; that somebody can see beyond your appearance and achievements to appreciate the soul that resides within. I hope that you are loved for your kindness, compassion and understanding, for your courage, integrity and generosity, rather than the way you look, the job you do, or the car you drive.
I hope people can see beyond your achievements to appreciate the personal qualities that helped you reach them. I hope that you have a love that gives you a reason to smile every single day, and makes something in your heart sing. I hope that you love enough to let that love in too.
Sometimes you have to let life turn you upside down so you can learn how to live right side up
- Christopher Morley -
This grass does incredible things to my insides that I cannot find the words enough to describe. That silvery sheen is very difficult to capture but boy do I take hours trying and finding myself lost in a world that needs no lawn mower
And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair
- Kahlil Gibran -
Once upon a time two years ago:
Life sets the stage for an intersection of paths with visitors into the scenes of being that we will only share the juncture with for but a few moments before they vanish, yet their impact leaves an impression so powerful that you cannot help but be changed in a way so sweet that gratitude has a new found existence in your heart.
Enter Ntombi at centre stage. We sat side by side at Nandos waiting for our orders in silence. My daughter Montanna, affectionately known as Monti, wanted to go outside for some fresh air and I asked her to stay put because I did not want to miss our order number being read. Ntombi opened her mouth and what came out of her lips made it feel as though someone had poured crushed ice directly into the centre of my spine. She gently told Monti that she should listen to her Mommy because even grown-ups get kidnapped because it happened to her father. My eyes widened at the same time as Monti’s and I asked her to tell me the story. Her father was a taxi owner and driver and he was last seen on his final shift from Muldersdrift to Krugersdorp. According to the two witnesses that were left in his completed drop off, he was allegedly arrested for drunken driving and was never to be seen again. This happened in 1990, before our country became a democracy which is why there was never an enquiry or investigation commanded into his disappearance. He was just gone!
I asked her how she coped with never knowing what had really happened to her father and what she uttered was so incredibly potent that every hair on the back of my neck stood up. “This may sound unemotional but for my own sanity and peace of mind I had to accept the fact that I would never see my father alive again. It was painful initially but I am not a victim, even though I have been abused and raped more than once, I have a life to live and a goal to achieve. I cannot be held back by my grief because it will slowly kill me. I want to better myself in a country that failed my father”.
She completed her matric in Mpumalanga and came back to her home, the Westrand to make a better life for herself. She had no job and often contemplated suicide, resorting to prostitution or selling drugs to make money. She said something inside her knew that she was worth so much more than buckling under the pressure to endure a life on the streets. She humbled herself into becoming a domestic worker, the job her mother had done all her life, in the hopes that her employer would see her potential, which is exactly what happened. She now works for Telkom who have blessed her with a bursary and she is in the final stages of completing her honours. When I asked her what it is she wants to do with her degree, she looked humorously at me with the most beautiful smile and answered, “One step at a time, I first need to achieve this goal”.
Ntombi is incredibly intelligent, not through methods of study but through methods of life and her experiences that have made her so street-wise; the kind of intelligence I myself am drawn to. She has a lovely openly inviting face and is probably older than she looks, the only evidence of that is the windows to her soul; her eyes are saturated in wisdom, deeply set in a life of hardship yet certainly not blinded to the possibilities that lay before her. Her sunny apparel of yellow and white brought lightness to the heaviness of what she had expressed to me in the frozen ten minutes we shared on that platform of togetherness. When she tells her story she frequently gets met with sympathetic “Ah shames” from those who are on the receiving end of her history. Her response is unpretentious, “I’m not looking for sympathy; I’m looking to move beyond my past; an opportunity to grow”.
Our conversation ended abruptly by the simultaneous calling out of our order numbers. Her eyes met mine as the curtain began drawing to a close on our briefly united moment on the stage of life. She thanked me for listening to her and smiled before saying it was a pleasure to meet me. I responded with these parting words, “I think you are amazing! Thank YOU!” Ntombi disappeared out of my life as suddenly as she had entered, much like her father had out of hers but she left me in the air of her rawness and beauty, a path of motivation that she had laid out for me that I don’t even think she is aware of.
Ntombi is an African Zulu name meaning “Lady”, a name so fitting it was as if she had chosen it herself before she was born in the knowledge that her life would take her to the places she had been. Her circumstances could have made her into a bitter old bag. She chose instead to be a ‘lady’ and walked off that stage with her head held high.
The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
- Henry Miller -
I've had a little adventure these last few days...discovering things around me while also discovering things within me. It's always a two-fold journey this life; mutually beneficial if you allow yourself to see more than what meets the eye.
So I damaged my lens...a photographers WORST nightmare. I dropped it in an effort to keep it safe...don't you just luuurve irony? So when this unfortunate event took place I quickly packed up my camera, popped it in the bag and could not drag myself to look at what the possible damage might be. I closed the bag and hoped beyond all logical reason that my lens would magically fix itself so that the next time I opened the bag, voila...figment of my imagination and the lens was good as new. Well you see now...we live in a hard world that bitch slaps you back into the cold grips of reality's icy fingers more often than we change out underwear, well at least mine anyway.
Cold hard slap was that the lens was broken and it needed to go to Nikon for an assessment. I felt ill throughout my entire body and soul and I was very, very, VERY angry. SO angry in fact that I literally made myself ill and gave myself a lovely cold sore that donned itself aesthetically to my left nostril. There are these strange moments that life presents to us that come disguised as really gross and disgusting trauma but on closer inspection are blessings of the highest kind. Like this one: A very kind and generous soul loaned me his 100mm macro lens while mine is in ICU and boy have I been taking advantage like a fat kid given free reign in a candy store. I've been discovering things I initially fell in love with that I had forgotten about. Things about myself too; that I can bounce back with dogged determination not to let a change to something that means the world to me transform me into a bitter and twisted old bat.
I discovered that sometimes I have to get a little uncomfortable, that people will say things that piss me off but they are things I NEED to hear to push me back into discovering what I am really made of and that life is a series of adventures that always has a balance...the push and the pull of getting me further in my steps towards becoming who I really am. I learned that what seems disastrous initially is a wonderful gift of growth. Only IF I am able to embrace and acknowledge it instead of returning the gifts to sender.
A little evidence of my journey within...
How I see it...
I see, speak and write in metaphors because I feel there is much we can learn from nature, people and our surroundings as depicted in my photographs and why I enjoy sharing my thoughts. Not in any attempt to convince or convert you to my way of thinking, seeing or feeling but to share how I see and experience MY mind map of the world. You at no time have to agree, all I ask is that my views and the views of others who wish to express theirs are kindly respected. So relax, get comfy and just enjoy. Happy reading!