Cupboard charcoalI have been compulsively collecting mid-century vernacular slide photographs – specifically 35mm slides – since 1999. This is a venture-without-end and a continuous fascination. I feel a deep satisfaction and, in moments, a keen excitement looking at the world as it was in the 1950s through 1970s. I see the everyday cultural history of a world I was born into, lived in and received through my family. The connectedness I feel to my own history and of all humanity is important and one I can safely plug into with old, discarded family photographs.

My mission is to rescue, restore and revive these old 35mm slides – all taken by ordinary South Africans – all amateur photographers – both at home and on their travels. Those travels were to places now out of vogue, places now ruined by war, places much changed, and places yet still familiar. Slides are no longer convenient for people to watch and they often fall by the wayside when households go through change. My collection thus consists of snapshot moments that would otherwise have been tossed on the scrap heap.

Unlike a photograph from the same era, a slide is more likely to retain its quality. So, despite their inconvenience, they are jewel-like treasures, rich in pixel data, and well worth dipping into for historical, cultural and aesthetic material. I seek to share the everyday world as it was in the middle of the last century, for the benefit of those who are curious today.

There are many beautiful images, sometimes strange, often easy to relate to. As time moves on, this material, and the perspective it gives us, becomes more and more valuable. I aim to share these images as a live stream of my ‘diapositive explorations’ so that we can see once again what has gone before, develop memories, and appreciate where we come from.


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