Memories of Exile – George Hallett

(Archive: first published in Sept 2005)

Africa 05, the year-long festival of African arts and culture throughout the UK is ushering in Black History Month. Memories of Exile is a selection of 26 photographs from the 4th African Photography Biennial (Bamako).

George Hallett

The Spitz Gallery is opening the celebrations with an exhibition by South African photographer George Hallett. Memories of Exile is a selection of 26 photographs from the 4th African Photography Biennial (Bamako) curated by Simon Njami in 2001.

Born in Cape Town in 1942, George Hallett left South Africa in 1970. He first settled in London where he worked for the Times Educational Supplement and designed book covers for Heinemann’s African Writers Series. From 1974, he lived between France and Amsterdam until the political changes made it possible for him to return to South Africa. In 1994, he documented the emerging democracy and Nelson Mandela’s campaign for presidency. These pictures earned him a World Press Photo – Golden Eye Award in 1995. He was subsequently member of the WPP jury and was appointed official photographer of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1998.
His recent exhibitions include Rhizomes of Memory, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo (2000), Handsworth through Southern Eyes, Soho House Museum, Birmingham (2002-03) and Bearing Witness, Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry (2004).

For Memories of Exile, curator Christine Eyene has selected images that mark the starting point of a 24-year long journey. From South African exiles – most of them artists, writers and musicians (Dumile Feni, Louis Maqhubela, Gavin Jantjes, Louis Moholo, Chris McGregor, Alex la Guma, Pallo Jordan, etc.) – to the Caribbean community in Handsworth, George Hallett’s images stand as a remarkable contribution to the history of Black people in England.

Gavin Jantjes, member of the Documenta 12 election committee, writes: “Hallett’s photographs are a thankful release from the threat of indifference to questions of cultural identity posed by the swamp of photographic images that abound in the post-modern metropolis.”

The exhibition runs from 1 to 16 October.

Talk : Destination London – South African Exiles in the 70s and 80s
George Hallett will give a unique talk about his work in relation to exile and share his experience of South African history.
Thursday 6 October 6.30 pm

Entrance free

Spitz Gallery
109 Commercial Street
London E1 6BG

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