For thirty years I have worked on highly personal photographic essays reflecting my response to South Africa’s complex evolution. During the eighties I produced numerous essays documenting life under apartheid and eventually joined the collective, Afrapix. Between 1989 and 1994 I covered South Africa’s transition to democracy for Reuters and other news organizations. Since then I have concentrated on producing contemporary bodies of work that reflect this complex country.
My work is housed in the permanent collections of The Smithsonian (USA), The South African National Gallery, The Rotterdam Museum of Ethnology, Duke University (USA), The North Carolina Museum of Art, The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, The Finnish School of Photography, and Cape Town University.
I have staged solo exhibitions in Johannesburg, New York, Paris and London and have contributed to many combined exhibitions including the 2011 Figures and Fictions exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
During 2013 I was awarded the POPCAP Prize for Contemporary African Photography as well as the Ernest Cole Book award for the series, A city refracted.
In 2014 a selection of images from the series, Over Time, was included in a major exhibition showcasing South African photography at Huis Marseille in Amsterdam. In 2014 a set of images from the series A city refracted was included in the Aperture Summer Open exhibition in New York. In April, 2017 images from the series, As the grass grows, were included in the Louis Vuitton Foundation’s Being There, a collective exhibition showcasing contemporary South African art. In 2008, as Barack Obama sought Presidency and raced for the position against John McCain, Newsweek magazine ran a story asking each candidate to choose an image that best personified their world view. Obama chose a township image that I took in 1991.
Photographic assignments have taken me to fifty countries and my photographs have been published in major publications worldwide, including National Geographic Magazine, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine and Photography magazine (UK).
Selected exhibitions/permanent collections
Solo exhibitions (selected)
2015 Art First Gallery, London – two essays – Marking Time and As the grass grows.
2015 Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg – A city refracted book launch and exhibition.
2013 VU’ Galerie, Paris. A curated collection of images from bodies of work produced over 25 years.
2012 Singapore International Photography Festival.
2012 Noorderlicht Photography Festival. Holland.
2012 Mois de la Photo Painting over the Present.
2011 Kijk Gallery – Paris – Gallery opening exhibition.
2009 The Edge of Town. Axis Gallery New York.
2008 The Edge of Town. Artspace, Johannesburg.
2003 Hard Ground – permanent exhibition. Commissioned by the University of Cape Town and displayed as a permanent exhibition at the Chemical Engineering Building.2002 Dreamtime in Breathless Spaces. Bonani Festival of Photography and Museum Africa. Johannesburg.
Photographs from a collection of personal work. Photo ZA Gallery, Johannesburg
2001 Hlabisa Portraits – Aids orphans and HIV positive children. 6th Wonca World Congress of Family Doctors. Durban.
2018 one of the 30 artists selected for the International Festival of Photography in Brazil ( See attached – Selection from the series: The Struggle for Democracy – 1989 to1994).
2017 Images from the series, As the grass grows, were included in the Louis Vuitton Foundation’s Being There, a collective exhibition showcasing contemporary South African art.
2017 Images from the series The Struggle for Democracy – 1989 to1994 were selected for the International Festival of Photography in Brazil.
2017 images from the series, As the grass grows, will be included in the Louis Vuitton Foundation’s Êtra là, a collective exhibition devoted to the contemporary South African Art Scene. Paris.
2015 A short film showcasing the essay, A city refracted, was chosen for the Rencontres de la photographie festival in Arles, France. 2015.
2014 Selected for the Aperture Foundation Summer Open. New York.
2014 Huis Marseille, Amsterdam. Apartheid and After – Contemporary South African Photography.
2013 Prize for Contemporary African Photography
Exhibited at Basel Switzerland, PhotoIreland in Dublin, Ireland and Lagos Photo Festival in Lagos, Nigeria.
2012 The International Centre of Photography (ICP) New York– The Rise and Fall of Apartheid.
2012 The Smithsonian (New York) – Earth Matters exhibition
2011 Dali Photography Festival in China – The Big Show portraits (Shared 1st prize Best Exhibition).
2011 Angkor Photo Festival in Cambodia – Two Dogs series.
2011 Figures and Fictions – Contemporary South African photography exhibition: Victoria and Albert Museum, The Edge of Town, London.Then and Now. Exhibition, book and film. Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg in South Africa, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia, Malmo and Norrkoping in Sweden (2008 – 1010).
– Website: www.graemewilliams.co.za
– Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GraemeWilliamsPhotographer
– Victoria and Albert Museum – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IujzTRx_x6E
– Photography and Democracy: http://photographyanddemocracy.com/?portfolio=graeme-williams
– South African Studios: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IlfQPrMQWw
– A city refracted: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSBXcxFNy04
2017 The Last Chief, was shortlisted in UK’s Bob’s Books Photobook competition
2017 A city refracted was shortlisted for the Fine Art section of the Swiss Photo Award.
2016 Diverging Dreamlines was chosen as one of four “best of show” in our 7th annual photobook exhibition – Davis Orton Gallery/ Griffin Museum of Photography.
2015 The Europeans was shortlisted for the Arles (France) and the Kassel (Germany) and the Unseen (Holland) dummy book awards.
2013 Winner of the Ernest Cole award for the project, A city refracted, focusing on the inner city of Johannesburg.
2013 POPCAP ’13 Prize for Contemporary African Photography.
2011 Dali Photography Festival in China – An exhibition showcasing four South Africans won the best exhibition award.
Permanent collections held at:
2017 Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA.
2016 The North Carolina Museum of Art
2011 The Smithsonian Institute (USA)
2009 University of South Africa (South Africa)
2008 Cape Town University South Africa)
2007 Duke University (USA)
2002 The Apartheid Museum (South Africa)
1999 Finnish School of Photography (Helsinki, Finland)
1997 Rotterdam Museum of Ethnology (Holland)
1994 South African National Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa)
1992 Oxfam and Anti-Apartheid Movement (Belgium)
Books – monographs and collected works
A city refracted – published by Jacana Media (Ernest Cole Award).
VU’ Gallery in Paris – VU Editions Graeme Williams.
The Edge of Town – Monograph. Graphis/Highveld Publishing. 2011.
Graeme Williams Photographe – Editions de L’Ceil. Selection of recent work. 2010
The Inner City. Exploring isolation through life in Johannesburg. 2000.
2018/2019 Mentorship of the Tierney Fellowship winner, Thandile Zwelibanzi, from the University of Witswatersrand.
2015/2016 Mentorship of the Tierney Fellowship winner, Tsepo Gumbi, from the Market Photo Workshop.
Photography Incubator Programme mentor program – Chris Stamatiou
2016 The Ampersand Foundation residency in New York.
VU Gallerie, Paris, France.
Axis Gallery, New York, USA.
Art First Gallery, London, United Kingdom.