olive and oak

elize strydom's photo journal

goodbye, olive and oak

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Olive and Oak began three years ago and it’s time to say goodbye. I have absolutely loved this little space – I’ve felt free to share honestly and have been so, so supported as I found my way and tried new things. I have met a bunch of wonderful people and many of them have become real-life friends – such an unexpected bonus!

I’ll still be posting words and pictures in various places:

My portfolio site recently added a blog feature and I’ve already started posting there. It makes sense to have my portfolio and blog in one place, right? Right.

I also created a Tumblr account under the name Twin Rivers. I want to start collaborating on more creative projects – conceptual stuff, documentary stuff, arty stuff – with florists, writers, film makers, illustrators, thinkers. I want to push my photography forward and try working outside the box, y’know? I’d also love to work with brands that like my photos and want me to take similar photos of their watches, wet suits or washing machines. So if you have ideas or just want to meet up and brainstorm then reach on out! twinriversstudio@gmail (you know the rest)

Twin Rivers on Instagram

Small Town Girl on Instagram

Thank you for visiting Olive and Oak and commenting or ‘liking’ or sharing. I hope that you’ve seen my photos and read my words and felt something or been inspired to do something or started observing your world in a new way.

Much love,

Elize

this is south africa – part two

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In the heat of the day the dusty streets of Jouberton are deserted but once the sun starts to sink they fill with families, men on their way home from work, quarreling kids, grandmas in green and the occasional chicken. Cooking ingredients are exchanged and meal offers are made but no one goes home until well after dark. There’s nowhere else to be and it’s clear that nothing’s more important than sitting by the side of the road chatting with your neighbour while your children play nearby.

18 year old Mpho lives with her grandmother, mother, little brother, aunties and cousins plus two month old Lethabo in a three bedroom home. “Family and friends come to stay all the time,” she says. “It’s hard to get a bath around here – unless you’re Lethabo.”

She completed her matric (year 12 exams) last year at a boarding school a few hours away but has now moved home again. She plans to go to college next year and wants to be a nurse. We spend the days walking around her neighbourhood (“Everyone is staring at you,” she said. “But don’t worry, I’ll be your bodyguard.”) and hanging out with her best friend, Lebogang, singing along to songs on the music channel and sitting by the side of the road eating ice blocks to stay cool. Lebogang and Mpho grew up together in Jouberton. He’ll finish high school at the end of the year and then plans to move to Cape Town to study law. They both love music and have incredible singing voices. “Do you like Sia? What about Ellie Goulding? And London Grammar? Yes? Ahhh we’re the same!” said an excited Mpho.

As soon as school finishes, Mpho goes from house to house, visiting her friends. They sit outside listening to music on their phones, eating peaches and pomegranates from the trees or chips and ice blocks bought for less that 10 cents from one of the many ‘tuck shops’. One day I offered Mpho some of my dried fruit/nut/seed mix. She wasn’t keen. “Ew, no thanks!” Later she offered me some of her chicken feet (aka ‘runaways’). You can probably guess my response.

Mpho always wears a hat and long pants or sleeves – even on 40 degree c days like today – because she says she doesn’t want her skin to get any darker. “I’m black on the outside but white on the inside,” she told me.

Photographing Mpho was just one of those wonderful, unexpected encounters that ended up being better than anything I could have imagined or planned. Being the only white person in the community felt uncomfortable and strange but I think it was important to experience that.  At times it was confronting and challenging but for the most part it was just plain fun. Mpho and I really connected and she felt like a real friend.

All photos shot with a Leica M6 and Kodak Portra film. Developed and scanned at Richard Photo Lab.

this is south africa – part one

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I’d been to South Africa twice before but had only visited major cities and tourist-y spots. Shooting Small Town Girl there earlier this year meant I was able to get off the beaten track and meet real people and get a taste of their day to day lives. I feel like my assumptions of South Africa were constantly being challenged/smashed and for that I am extremely grateful. In Nieu-Bethesda I photographed Rebecca and stayed with her family and didn’t want to leave. The landscape reminded me of something in between Broken Hill, Australia and Palm Springs, USA and I had to keep reminding myself where I was. The village proper has a population of approximately 100 people (and no paved roads…but a charming network of water furrows). With the surrounding farms and black/coloured township that number is closer to 1500. It’s situated in the Great Karoo, a vast semi-desert region, and is scorching in summer and snowy in winter. Much like Broken Hill, there are little galleries and studios all over town and ever second person you meet is a painter or jeweler or ceramicist. While Rebecca was at school I cruised around Nieu-Bethesda on a bike, taking photos of this and that, and hung out at this place which was part beer brewery, part coffee roastery and part cheese factory. So, in other words, heaven (aka The Brewery). I met two US backpackers there and we went on a canyon hike then caught a ride back to town on the roof of a local’s old Landrover. I drank Rooibos tea with Rebecca’s beautiful mum Bronwen and we connected over similar life choices and upbringings and outlooks. On Friday night a South African musician named Guy Buttery performed and afterwards I found myself sitting around a campfire with a group of locals and a few other travelers , sharing stories and smokes. I rode my bike home through the black night aware of my place below the massive mountains. The next few days at Rebecca’s place consisted of rustic meals around the family table, a trip through the Owl House, swims and a picnic lunch in a gorge. I wanted to wrap myself up in the warmth of this little family forever. I felt so nourished after a week with them in such a spectacular, peculiar hidden gem of a small town.

These shots were taken on my Leica M6 and Canon 1V and developed/scanned at Richard Photo Lab.

 

 


					

here there and everywhere

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So I feel like a bit of an internet hog at the moment. I’ve done lots of interviews/Q&As re: Small Town Girl and while I’m thrilled that the project is attracting interest and that people are connecting, I’m uncomfortable with self-promotion. But I’m trying to look at it in the same way a band might when they release an album. They present something they’ve been working on in private to the public and then talk about it/answer questions then tour then disappear again and toil away on something new. I’m far more interested in the ‘toiling away’ part. And I know that will begin again soon: I’m making plans to go photograph Indigenous girls and young refugees in Western Australia. But if you have some time to kill between now and then, feel free to click on one or two of the articles below and listen to me waffle on!

Small Town Girl on…

Buzzfeed

Vice

Between 10 and 5

The Australian newspaper

Ngaio Parr’s blog

Jason de Plater’s blog

The Daily Examiner (my hometown newspaper!)

The drawing above is by the wonderful Ngaio and I’m flattered! I mean, how often does someone take the time to draw you? Such a cool thing.

sounds so far

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As my friend and colleague Zan Rowe reminded us all on Twitter this morning, it’s Mid Year Report time! The radio station I work for, triple j, will spend this week looking back over the musical gems and milestones of the first six months of 2015. I’ve definitely caught myself thinking about how awesome this year has been music-wise so I thought I’d join in and let you know what sounds I’ve been digging.

1. Let It Happen – Tame Impala

2. Short Movie – Laura Marling

3. No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross – Sufjan Stevens

4. Chateau Lobby #4 (In C for Two Virgins) – Father John Misty

5. Multi-Love – Unknown Mortal Orchestra

6. Aerial Love – Daniel Johns

7. Letting Go – Braids

8. Bad Blood (feat. Kendrick Lamar) – Taylor Swift

9. Bitch Better Have My Money – Rihanna (Link to a live version because the official video is too much for me.)

10. Do You Remember – Jarryd James

What about you?

durban days

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Deb and her husband Mike lived in Australia for two years but have now settled back home in South Africa. We became friends after meeting at church in Sydney and I was lucky enough to spend two weekends with them in Durban in between Small Town Girl shoots. It was cool to be in the city with a couple of locals who knew their way around and where to get the best coffee (v. important). We visited Deb’s friend Amy Venter who’s a fashion designer and owner of Jane Sews, an artisan clothing, footwear and leather label. She was in the middle of setting up a new space at The Commune I really wanted to buy all of the things – every gorgeous item is designed and made in Durban – but I was traveling with just a backpack and a duffle bag so it wasn’t practical. Thank goodness for online shopping, though, right? On this particular day, Deb was tossing up whether or not to rent a space at The Commune for Bouwer Flowers, her floral design studio. All over South Africa I met passionate artists/designers/musicians/photographers/florists and jewellers creating scenes, working hard and making things happen. A vibrant, cutting edge creative industry is probably not the first thing you think of when someone mentions SA but it soon will be, trust me.

twenty twenty

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I carry my camera around everywhere and some days I take 10 photos while other days I take zero. It means I end up with quite a mixed bag of shots, some of which I totally forget about until I get the scans back. And so I present to you 20 photos from the last little while…

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7

13

14

15

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18

19

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1. An engagement party at the Grounds of Alexandria 2-6. Do you know Ngaio? You need to know Ngaio. We spent an afternoon together at her place 7-12. With my nieces and my brother in Coffs Harbour a few days after I got back from South Africa 13-15. Maddy + Jake, Christina and Faith + Yudi at their Parkes wedding in early May 16. Brendan just before he moved to Melbourne 17. My best girl, Ali, at Mecca the morning after my exhibition opened 18. Monstera around the pool at my new digs 19. Chloe and Lee trekked out to Vaucluse to visit me and have brunch at The Trail 20. A girl on the train in the morning sun.

I took some of these shots with my Canon 1V and some with my Leica M6 which is now broken, oh so very broken. Kodak Portra 35mm film. Developed and scanned at Richard Photo Lab.

gracie’s having a baby

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Remember my dear friend and old flatmate Gracie? Well she’s about to become a mama and I couldn’t be more excited. A few Sundays ago my other old flatmate Lydia and her sisters Emily and Charis and I went to Gracie’s house for a little baby shower. However, there were no birth date/weight/gender guessing games or melted chocolate bars in disposable nappies (if you’ve been to more than one baby shower in the last few years you’ll know what THAT’S all about). Instead we made natural moisturisers and an exfoliating scrub. Win! You should totally make this one moisturiser at home. It’s simple, nourishing and smells delicious.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup shea butter

1/2 cup cocoa butter

1/2 cup sweet almond oil

1 vanilla pod

Method:

Combine everything in a saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently and allow the ingredients to melt. Remove from the stove and pour liquid into a bowl. Break the vanilla pod and stir the seeds through the liquid. Put the bowl in the freezer until the liquid is solid (not frozen!). Remove from the freezer and use a hand blender (not to be confused with a hand beater) to whip the ingredients until its consistency is light and fluffy. Slather it on your limbs knowing you’re feeding your skin the good stuff, mmm.

sundowner

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I told you I’d be back soon! Yeah, I know, more pics from summer (I took a whole lot – it was a good one) but it’s a sunny 22 degrees C in Sydney (what winter?) so I was reminded of this glorious Cronulla afternoon with Rachel, Chloe, Lee, Sophie and Maddy.

old news

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An old picture taken in my old room late last year (the old days). This room, this time, feels like forever ago. Since moving out of that house I’ve slept in 18 (count ‘em!) different beds and am now settled in just one. Well, more like two.

In 2014 I made a concerted effort to get back into books. Reading is something that brings me great joy and fulfilment but somehow I’d let it slip away. I read 20 books and these are some of them. I was hoping to get through 40 this year but I’m off to a terrible start. I’m part-way through Spinster – Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick, Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon, Cry of the Kalahari by Mark & Delia Owens and Phenomenal by Leigh Ann Henion.

There are many, many photos I’d like to post and stories I’d like to share but this is it for now. I’ll be back soon, promise.

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