Around then, I began to look deeply at the work of Strand, Stieglitz, Weston and Atget, all of which resonated the feeling that each artist was exploring their respective lives.
They made work about both their outer surroundings and their inner landscapes and their art clearly showed their individual and consistent authorship. Weston for instance made portraits that had similarities to his drift wood series of years later, he photographed a toilet bowl that looked like his shells and nudes that looked like his contorted peppers. This has been fundamental to me. Around the age of 14 I saw a picture in a newspaper.
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The viewpoint looked into a trench being dug by 5 black men and there out of the hole, cropped at the knees, was a white pair of legs that stood over them. I grew up with this injustice all around me, Apartheid was in everyones bones. The pictures that I took then and into my early 20s, although unaccomplished, have the same sense of quiet and unease that is a part of my practice today. I saw TV for the first time when we went to Europe on a family holiday when I was South Africa first broadcast TV the next year! I remember how different in all ways the cities were to Johannesburg - the food, the transport and the streets so full of people.
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The equality. I remember sneaking out of the hotels and walking, probably only a block or two, just to feel alone, anonymous and on an even footing with all the people around me. And I remember visiting a lot of galleries because my sister Tamar, who was well on her way to being the artist she is today, took every opportunity. From then on, I wanted to return to Europe.
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A shame, but true. I just left and I have never returned. Having a very bad accident on my motorbike that I had had since I was 15 a Triumph Tiger , was a hinge event. Prior to this I had been a practising hard man and going nowhere. Working on the machines during the day and riding in groups at night was my life.
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After the accident when I was 17, I never rode again and my focus shifted back to photography. South Africa forced its white male citizens to partake in National Service, and I somehow ensured I was drafted into the Air force and then into a darkroom where I printed aerial pictures for two years. It was here that I became certain I wanted to become a lens based artist.
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I met Nicole Verity at about this time. The day after I cleared out of the Air force I started working for Harry De Zitter, and a few months later, soon after my 21 st birthday, I left for England. At the end of I was back in South Africa and met up with Nicole again. She joined me in England in We squatted in a block of flats two streets away from where we later bought a house.
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