24 May 2017 Volume :5 Issue :27

Acclaimed Photographer Gives “A Life Less Ordinary” Presentation at UKZN

Acclaimed Photographer Gives “A Life Less Ordinary” Presentation at UKZN
A collection of Matthew Willman’s photographs.

Members of UKZN’s Durban Alumni Association were treated to a peek behind the lens of one of South Africa’s foremost photographers Matthew Willman during a talk and presentation he gave at the University.

Willman has photographed global icons including President Nelson Mandela, United States Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, singer Annie Lennox, several Nobel laureates as well as musicians and artists.

A documentary photographer, Willman has captured the lives of ordinary people in places such as Eritrea, South Sudan and northern Kenya.  ‘It is a privilege to be living and working in these environments because this is where humanity meets itself,’ said Willman.

‘My normal is your abnormal. My normal is sitting out in some of the most horrendous places in the world, and I’m absolutely loving it,’ he said.

Willman captivated the audience with his experiences of chatting to Mandela over breakfast and his work as a commissioned photographer to the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Having spent over a decade documenting Mandela’s life, he has published five best-selling books on South Africa’s first democratically elected President. At present, he is curating Mandela’s life at the Freedom Centre in the United States.

His passion extends to making a difference to individuals and communities and in 2011 he founded the Matthew Willman Arts Trust which has given tertiary level scholarships and financial grants to young up-and-coming artists.

An alumnus of the Durban University of Technology, Willman started an MA at UKZN but left to spend time pursuing his dream of documenting Mandela’s life.

He has received many accolades for his work in the visual arts. Tutu said the following: ‘Matthew is a remarkably talented young man and I am thrilled to see the quality of the work he is producing. We have been enriched by many cultures, languages and faiths, it is a heritage in South Africa to be shared, experienced and celebrated as is the diversity of our landscapes, our wildlife, our villages and towns. Thank you Matthew for mediating these to us through your camera.’

Visit Willman’s website for a glimpse into his life behind the lens: http://www.matthewwillman.co.za/

*The Durban Alumni Association co-ordinates about four presentations a year and organises tours to places of interest in KZN. Membership of the Association is open to all UKZN graduates and to affiliated members who are not graduates. Graduates are encouraged to participate in the events which are advertised on the various UKZN alumni social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photographs: Matthew Willman

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