olive and oak

elize strydom's photo journal

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

alex dyson high res (1 of 1)

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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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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.

about last night

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My friend Chloe took this picture with her phone outside Woolies on George street in the city last night and I love it. We’d just left a bar where we were celebrating the opening of Small Town Girl – Australia, South Africa and the USA at Gaffa gallery and I was feeling so happy. An hour or two earlier I was in a room full of people I love and people I’d never met. 23 framed photographs representing the best and brightest experiences I’d had over the previous two and a half years were lining the walls. Looking around that room, I realised that the Small Town Girl project encompasses so, so much more than the images. It occurred to me that it really isn’t about the photos at all. It’s about relationships and connection. The camera is the ‘key’ that gives me access to the girls’ lives – it’s my reason for being there – but the experiences we share, the things we learn from each other and the reciprocal understanding we gain is the real reason and purpose. The photos are just evidence, you know?

I’d like to thank everyone who came along and said kind things and told me that the photos/words on the walls made them feel something – the highest compliment. I’d especially like to thank dear, dear Justin – my mentor and friend – who spoke so beautifully about the project and tied it together perfectly. I am so fortunate. The world is abundant.

summer type stuff – part three

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1. Brendan at Gordons 2. Brendan in Marrickville 3. Inner city greenery 4. Faith and Yudi just before they got married 5. Spit to Manly walk vista 6. Leica light leak ladies – Lee and Sophie at the MCA 7. One of my last days at the house on Wilson street 8. New friends on the train from Wynyard to Redfern 9. Mama at Brickfields a few days after Christmas 10. Changing room window 11. Anna and little man George 12. Goodbye Lyndsay ‘the Doctor’ McDougall! 13. Chippendale laneways 14. Reading on the rocks

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

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