George Hallett, South African, b. 1942
George Hallett has been described as a humanist photographer. He worked in Europe for three decades photographing the positive aspects of peoples lives, teaching photography, working for The Times Educational Supplement in London, and designing book covers for the Heinemann African Writers series.
His first exhibition with South African artists Gerard Sekoto and Louis Maurice was held in Paris in 1971. This was followed by an exhibition in the Weste Kerk in Amsterdam organized by The World Council of Churches.
In 1973, his first book of photographs, ” Present Lives Future Becoming ” was published by Hickey Press in London with text by Cosmo Pieterse. Throughout the seventies he exhibited in England, Sweden, Norway,The Netherlands and at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1979.
In 1974, Hallett moved away from the city and settled in a small farming community in the Pyrénées Mountains. Mas Domingo became his home for several productive years. Soon he found himself recording the slow, richly textured life of his neighbours. Hasselblad Camera awarded him an award for Outstanding Contributions to Photography in 1982 for that body of work.
The next decade took him to the United States of America, where he was Artist in Residence at the University of Illinois in 1983. He also had the good fortune to be invited to five other Universities in the US that same year. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New Yorkincluded his work in a show of 14 Black photographers that toured the US. The Castillo Gallery in NY exhibited his work in a show called,” Black Photography from South Africa to South Carolina ” in 1985.
Seeking new photographic adventures he moved to Amsterdam after his return from the US. He taught photography to Moroccan students, made a documentary about the Moroccan community and also worked for the Anna Frank Foundation with students against all forms of racism. Love soon beckoned him to Paris. Once in Paris, he continued working all over Europe. In 1994, he received a call from Pallo Jordan, inviting him to come and photograph the first Democratic Elections in South Africa. The photographs of Mandela on the Election trail won a Golden Eye . He was rewarded with World Press Photo in Amsterdam the following year.
He was subsequently appointed official photographer for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997. His South African work includes books about transformation, women in photography, Jazz books, youth culture by youth, African writers portraits and a book on District Six.
He worked with the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo as picture researcher and exhibitor celebrating the four Peace Prize laureates : Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk. In October 2013 Hallett participated in an exhibition with Peter Clarke and Gerard Sekoto at the Cite International des Arts in Paris.
A retrospective of his work is currently on show at the National Gallery in Cape Town. He was invited on the Distinguished Visitor Programme by the University of Central Lancashire in March 2014 to deliver an illustrated lecture about his British work in the 70’s and 80’s. In May he will be exhibiting in a group show with Nordic Light International Center of Photography in Kristiansund, Norway.