A visit to the Casa Labia in Muizenberg to see the evocative exhibition of photographs by Liz Hardman from Simon’s Town is a must. The photographs of baboons from our local troops fill one with a mixture of awe, tenderness, sadness and anger. Awe and tenderness at the very humanness of these animals, sadness and anger when brought face to face with the way man is spoiling their habits and their habitats.
Liz grew up in Port Elizabeth and after 28 years of travelling widely in SE Asia and regions of the Pacific and Caribbean, mainly by yacht, she and her husband have settled in Simon’s Town where she has become very involved in local affairs. Always passionate about underwater photography, Liz has found new a new direction for her craft: photographing and filming the wildlife co-existing alongside humans in the suburban areas of the Scenic South peninsula. Her pictures have been published in both SA and Europe.
“Wild Within” the exhibition:
“The overall message is the collective responsibility we have in preserving our natural heritage and to encourage a more caring attitude towards baboons and their inherent wildness. “ The images were taken over a two year period and show the negative impact of people deliberately feeding baboons as well as scenes of baboons foraging in their natural environment. Portraits of individual baboons portray the unique characters of each one. Liz used Nikon D200 & D300 cameras and telephoto lenses to capture the pictures.
Below are scenes showing the negative impact of people’s irresponsible behaviour.
“I like the mood that black and white photography can portray. Without colour to distract, there is an added depth and dimension. I chose to use this medium for the series of portraits and the natural scenes. The portraits, I think have a “feel” about them, each characterizing a unique individual.”
The school art competition was based on Tali Hoffman’s lectures on “Being Baboon Wise”and the students produced colourful and interesting pictures. The theme is also in line with City of Cape Town’s Baboon Awareness Campaign, where communities impacted by baboons are being encouraged to take measures to baboon-proof homes and to practice effective waste management. Urban areas without easy pickings will discourage opportunistic raiding patterns and become less attractive in the long term.
The joint winners from Kommetjie Primary, Georgina Snaddon and Pia Ploughman both depicted baboons in the natural environment surrounded by fynbos.
Curtis Harrison from Simon’s Town Primary and Christianne Viljoen from Star of the Sea Convent chose to depict scenes topical raiding scenes.
Luyanda Mshengu picture (left) and Nina Ely’s (right) both showed secured houses with baboons at the closed windows.
An important element of the exhibition is reflected in a collage detailing the negative effect on baboons by the careless storage and discarding of our waste. Conditioned from a young age, juvenile and adult baboons alike are attracted to this waste as an everyday food source.
Photo – Waste collage
As part of the awareness campaign, Tali Hoffman will give two presentations : “Primate Neighbours: managing man and monkey on the interface of urban and wild” at 10:30am on Wednesdays 24th and 31st August. Following the talk on the 31st of August, Jacky Folley, the museum curator will give a tour of the house highlighting the historic aspects of the building and the art collection. For further enquiries and bookings phone 021 786 2274.
Local Ward Councillor Simon Leill-Cock opening address at Liz’s exhibition was as moving as her images:
This exhibition is really about a Fabergé egg: a jewel encrusted jewel inside a jewel inside the Egg – South Africa, the Western Cape, the Cape Peninsula and finally the Scenic South with its baboons, penguins, leopard toads, whales, wetlands, fynbos, beaches and mountains.
It’s also about some lost jewels – Vaal Rhebuck, wetlands and Strandlopers.
Today was one of those extraordinarily beautiful days when the winter sun shines a crystal clear light on the precious jewel that is the Scenic South Peninsula. On days like this my breath catches in my chest when I crest the Silvermine Mountains and see the sun rising over the distant mountains across the bay, when I see the sweep of white sand curving away into the distance and when I smell the fynbos wet with dew – tears of enduring wonder well up behind my eyes.
I have the privilege of being the Ward Councillor for Ward 61. It is a very daunting position to be in – being responsible for the final jewels inside the Fabergé egg.
As a child I spent my summer holidays wandering around the farms in Noordhoek – it was a magical world to be child in “a world with dew still on it. More touched by wonder and possibility than any I have since known” – Norman Maclean.
When Governor van Imhoff visited the Cape in 1743, he granted the farm Poespaskraal or “hotchpotch place” to Carel Georg Wieser. Wieser built a hunting lodge here at the foot of the Roodeberg Mountain next to a natural spring. The homestead was a simple T-shaped, thatched dwelling, built with clay and local sandstone and painted with lime wash.
The area was abundant with wildlife, pristine fynbos and indigenous forest and Vaal Rhebuck were hunted in abundance.
We can imagine that the strandlopers still frequented the area moving from “Skildersgat” (now known as Peers Cave), to forage on the seashores.
In my childhood things had not changed that much since 1743 – the Strandlopers were gone but the Vaal Rhebuck were still living on the slopes of the Roodeberg, the local farmers still ploughed their lands behind horses, the baboons still lived in the mountains and children still drank water from the natural springs that welled up form the sandy soil.
What is the status of our jewel today?
We are surrounded by unparalleled natural beauty – stunningly beautiful beaches and sea shores, mountains and valleys, dunes and wetlands.
We live inside a World Heritage Site that has the richest biodiversity in the world.
We live cheek by jowl with untamed creatures both inside and outside of the Table Mountain National Park, with whales, great white sharks, seals, penguins and baboons.
And of course we live with our fellow people who have caused great changes over the past 20 years:
- · The Vaal Rhebuck have gone from the slopes of the Roodeberg – killed by “tame” suburban dogs,
- · The water in the wetlands and aquifers is no longer safe for human consumption and
- · The farms I frequented as a child are covered by bricks and BMW’s.
- Urban sprawl
- Uncontrolled informal settlements
- Pollution in our wetlands
- Polluted seas
- Chaos on our roads
- Crime in our streets
- Fear in our homes
We behave as if we exist apart from our environment when it is clear that the survival of our families and our species depends on a healthy environment and the sustainable use of our natural resources.
And so the question to be answered is – how do we save ourselves from ourselves?
How do we build and implement a sustainable relationship between man and nature?
William Shakespeare said “there is no darkness but ignorance”.
Every now and then I get hit by a truth that instantaneously shows me my ignorance about something. This is illustrated by a story about a man on the New York subway. Two children in the coach were behaving abominably while their father sat nearby in apparent unconcern. The rest of the passengers were all on the edge of violence until eventually the traveller confronted the man about his children’s behaviour. The man was most apologetic. “I apologise” he said “their mother has just died and we are on our way home from the hospital”. Of course this changed the situation for everyone on the train and the children’s behaviour was no longer perceived as an issue – and yet nothing had changed except their awareness.
So we need to improve our awareness and that of others and this exhibition is one of those moments – but it is not the first.
People have not always been at odds with the environment – before Carel Wieser the Strandloper and Khoisan lived in a sustainable relationship with their environment for tens of thousands of years.
How did the first inhabitants of our jewel view us? What did they think of our ways, of the hunting and farming?
Well, they used art to express their beliefs – on the rocks of the Cederberg there are many sites covered with ancient art and one of these contains some very interesting depictions which have been studied by archaeologists.
150 years after the first art exhibition depicting conflict between people and baboons we find ourselves in the same place. The need to find a sustainable solution is critical – not just for the baboons but also for people. For our own survival we need to shine a light on the darkness of ignorance and find a solution that does not come from the barrel of a gun.
I welcome this photographic exhibition of “WILD WITHIN” and congratulate Liz Hardman on her beautiful work – if one person leaves here with a changed awareness regarding the baboons then it will have served its purpose. The exhibition is on at the Casa Labia until 4 September.
Viv & Liz
Come up with the best, the funniest or the cleverest caption for a photo of a small Scenic South Peninsula baboon family photographed by Liz Hardman of Simon’s Town and you could win a
Lunch for two with a complimentary bottle of Casa Labia Bianco or Rosso house wine in the Café at the Casa Labia in Muizenberg . (1st Prize)
Tea for two in the Café (2nd Prize)
Hurry- entries close on the 31 August! See