Call and Response Book Launch

I have just recently come across this transcription from the launch of Call and Response at the Book Lounge in Cape Town in 2012, so some time ago, but a detailed and important conversation between my interlocutor UWC Historian Patricia Hayes and myself.

Again, I post this for the sake of documentation, and to make such conversations readily available to researchers and the like. Enjoy!

Book launch of Cedric Nunn, Call and Response

Conversation between Cedric Nunn and Patricia Hayes, introduced by Bronwyn Law-Viljoen.

The Book Lounge, Cape Town

12 June 2012

Transcribed by Bianca van Laun

Bronwyn: Thank you everybody for coming out on this blustery Cape Town evening. I’m Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, I’m the editor of Fourthwall Books which is the South African publisher of Cedric Nunn: Call and Response. I’m not going to say anything at the end so I’ll just say thank you now to Mervin and everyone else at Love Books for once again being so hospitable and hosting the book launch

Mervin: You mean the Book Lounge

Bronwyn: Oh sorry. (Laughs) I’m so sorry. The last one was at Love Books in Joburg. Book Lounge, sorry Mervin my apologies. The Book Lounge. Thank you. About two years ago I was approached by, I had known Cedric’s work obviously for a long time and so I was absolutely delighted when Ralph Seippel who is Cedric’s gallerist in Johannesburg approached Fourthwall Books with the idea of doing this publication and the German publishers. I think Cedric, he looks so young, I always think Cedric looks so young but he’s been around for ages. (Laughter). Young and sexy says George Hallett.   But Cedric has been at the cold face of South African photography since the 80s, since the 1980s.  He entered the fray at a critical juncture not only in the history of South Africa but in the history of photography, South African photography and I think very quickly established himself as a photographer with a deep sense of justice and at the same time a deep compassion and humanity for his subjects and for the environments in which they found themselves.  And that has always been the thing that has stood out for me and I think probably for many of you who know Cedric ‘s work is his desire to get off the beaten track and although he has been at some of the momentous events and has photographed some of the critical moments in South Africa history, he’s also been to the quiet places, to the places where most of us don’t go, to find the people that he’s really interested in and to whom he feels, with whom he feels a deep affinity. So his photography evinces an enormous generosity and compassion. Patricia is going to be Cedric’s interlocutor tonight. I met Patricia a couple of years ago on the occasion of your publication of John Liebenberg’s book. Patricia is a historian by training and her research and her work is in history but she has obviously developed a very keen sense of the relationship of the visual to history, and of history to the visual in South Africa. She teaches history at UWC and has been involved in very interesting projects about South African photography, to do with South African photography, so I think she’s a very worthy conversationalist and questioner tonight. So thank you very much Patricia for agreeing to talk to Cedric, and over to both of you. Continue reading

Feeling unsettled yet?

Here follows the opening remarks of long-time colleague, friend and fellow photographer, Peter McKenzie at the occasion of the opening of my exhibition ‘Unsettled: 100 Years War of Resistance by Xhosa Against Boer and British’ at the KZNSA Gallery in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal on the 13th of May, 2015.

Cedric’s work is for me a form of re-appropriation of the contentious issue land. The creative act of engaging with a skewed notion of land ownership which makes it vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by power is reigned in and harnessed to serve the real needs transformation and racial equality. It renders land with its due, considerable heft. Continue reading

Grahamstown in focus: Cedric Nunn

Grahamstown in focus: Cedric Nunn

Grocott’s Mail

Photographer Cedric Nunn sees things differently. What’s the well-known lensman’s take on Grahamstown and the Eastern Cape, Sue Maclennan asks.

There’s one regret Cedric Nunn carries with him as he leaves Grahamstown this week: it’s that during his long and successful photographic career, this is the first time he’s managed to work extensively in the Eastern Cape. Continue reading

Opening Address Unsettled: 100 Years of War by Cedric Nunn

Opening Address

Unsettled: 100 Years of War by Cedric Nunn

Wits Art Museum

10 March 2015


Rory Bester

Head: History of Art and Heritage Studies

Wits School of Arts


Good evening ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues. Welcome

to the opening of Unsettled: 100 Years of War by Cedric Nunn. Continue reading


Back to the archives! I’ve just come across this tract I wrote back in 2012 on the occasion of the reunion of the Dunn family in that year. My grandmother Elizabeth Nunn, was a daughter of this illustrious and controversial ancestor. John Dunn, secretary and diplomatic adviser to Cetshwayo, King of Zululand (1873-1879); labour recruiter and Protector of Immigrants in Zululand for the Natal colonial government; political and military intelligence officer under Lord Chelmsford in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879; principle political adviser to Sir Garnet Wolseley on the post-war settlement, and chief of the largest and wealthiest of the thirteen districts carved of the subjugated Zulu kingdom. Having married 49 wives and sired 120 children, the gathering was large indeed!

Dunns Unite 2012 – John Dunn’s Descendants Reunion

On 2 December 1856 on the north bank of the Lower Tugela river, one of the largest military battles ever to take place on South African soil happened. This battle, the ‘Second Battle of Ndondakusuka’, between two of King Mpande’s sons, Prince Mbuyazi, the favoured heir to the throne and his adherents, the Gqoza, and Prince Cetshwayo, contender for the throne and his Usuthu, resulted in the deaths of Mbuyazi and five other sons of Mpande, as well as an estimated ten to fifteen thousand of his followers, women and children included, in a single day. John Dunn, who loyally fought on the side of Mbuyazi, along with a contingent of about fifty of his men, narrowly escaped with his life. Continue reading

Apartheid Archive Project

In 2011 I produced a photographic exhibition for the Apartheid Archive Project

This project aims to archive accounts of living under apartheid, or recollections of the effects of apartheid by those who lived this experience or where adversely affected by apartheid. The submissions are entirely voluntary and can be made online at the above address, as can the existing ones be read online.


My submission is as follows;


My first encounter with apartheid happened very early, long before I could call it by its name. I was four when uncle Lawrence came to stay with us in our little cottage in Hluhluwe village, one of many men who sojourned with us whilst passing through or working in the area. He had come to build a school, and I was elated, because this evidently meant that, unlike the rest of my siblings, I would have the good fortune to remain at home, and not be sent off to some distant place to school. I was wrong. Continue reading

Photographing KwaZulu-Natal

This article was published in the December 2011 issue of Umlando which is the heritage publication of Ethekwini Municipality, to coincide with the showing of my exhibition ‘Convergence’ at the KwaMuhle Museum, which falls under the municipality. Follows:

The exhibition ‘Convergence’ consists of two bodies of work from my photographic career; ‘The Hidden Years’ and ‘In Camera’. ‘The Hidden Years’, consists of a series of images which show aspects of society in KwaZulu-Natal, which I felt was ignored or given little attention. The exhibition was shown at the KwaMuhle Museum in 1995, and the entire show was acquired by the museum at the time. It has been my great pleasure to have this work in KwaMuhle’s collection since it has been given exceptional exposure through the museum.

‘In Camera’ was produced in conjunction with the Apartheid Archive Study Project ( in 2009, and looks at South African society, focusing particularly on KwaZulu-Natal and elements of apartheid which continue to manifest in our society to this day. Continue reading

Chromatic Portraits

Axe Du Sud, a French production company, have produced a documentary on ten South African photographers, myself included, the film was shown on Arte in Europe on 30November. Here is a very short clip from the documentary;