Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bicycle Portraits

A few years ago I went to an exhibition of Stan Engelbrecht’s photographs. It was work from a collection called The Caution Horses - photographs taken of wild horses in the Namib desert. I was comptely blown away by it. You can imagine my excitement when I came across another project of his together with Nic Grobler called Bicycle Portraits, blogged by Miss Moss.

The pair travel through South Africa on their own bicycles meeting & photographing as many fellow commuters as they can. The result is a collection of wonderful & personal photographs & interviews with the individuals.

Stan explains the project as: “investigating South African bicycle culture, and the lack of cyclist commuters out there on our roads”
“As you'll see we are not photographing people who ride purely for exercise or recreation, but instead we are focussing on those who use bicycles as an integral tool in their day-to-day existence. We've noticed that in South Africa, especially in the major centers, very few people use bicycles as mode of transport. This is very strange since we have no proper public transport infrastructure, and that which does exist is expensive and unsafe.”

I completely fell in love with this project & what these two talented photographers are trying to achieve. They are taking pledges & raising money to publish 3000 copies of the book Bicycle Portraits & of course there is a long term goal:
"Through publishing this book, we want to be able to assist the underprivileged cycling community through our project - be it teaching bicycle maintenance skills, providing necessities like helmets, tires, tubes, locks… It would be great to create a support structure for the people who appear in the book - this could be a trust funded by a percentage from sales of the cover price, or a charity set up in the name of the people who appear in the book etc. Ultimately we want to promote cycling as a means of independent transport to empower the underprivileged, and in fact, to encourage everyone capable to ride a bike as an alternative to driving a car, or even using public transport. We hope that this will lead to the kind of infrastructure development that is designed with all people in mind, not just cars."

The photographs capture the culture of the people & the country so beautifully. I see someone I know in every single one of them. A project like this makes me want to pack up my New Zealand husband & boy & move back home.

All photographs by Stan Engelbrecht & Nic Grobler for Bicycle Portraits 

Please visit the Bicycle Portrait website, take a gander through the amazing images & their personal stories & support this awesome project.

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