THE ERNEST COLE PHOTOGRAPHY AWARD
The Ernest Cole Photography Award is a new award in South Africa, initiated under the auspices of the University of Cape Town Libraries, offering a unique opportunity for photographers to complete an existing project. The award, named after documentary photographer Ernest Cole, was made possible by the generous support of the Peter Brown Trust, the Gavin Relly Educational Trust, the Kirsch Family Trust and Orms.
Ernest Cole was born in South Africa in 1940 and received his first camera as a gift from a clergyman. Before leaving South Africa in the mid 1960s he worked as a photojournalist for Drum magazine, sharing a darkroom and friendship with photographer Struan Robertson. On his own initiative Cole undertook a comprehensive photographic essay in which he showed what it meant to be black under apartheid. Out of this came the book, The House of Bondage, which was published in New York in 1967, and immediately banned in South Africa. He never returned to South Africa and died in exile in New York in 1990. Cole was a courageous documentarian who at times risked his life to share his imagery with the world. ‘He wasn’t just brave. He wasn’t just enterprising. He was a supremely fine photographer,’ said David Goldblatt, the renowned South African photographer.
The Ernest Cole Photography Award has been established to stimulate in-depth photography in South Africa, with an emphasis on creative responses to South African society, human rights and justice. The award is open to anyone whose work looks at South African society, with preference being given to people living within the country. The purpose of the award is to support the realisation of a significant body of work with which the photographer has been engaged.