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MY HEART STANDS IN THE HILL (article first published : 2005-09-14)

Magnificently produced, My Heart Stands in the Hill is not just another coffee-table 'African' glossy but a moving and stunningly beautiful pictorial journey into the lost spiritual world of South Africa's First People.

Award-winning filmmaker and photographer Craig Foster and well-published archaeologist Janette Deacon have drawn upon the ethnographic records of 19th century scholar Wilhelm Bleek and his sister-in-law, Lucy Lloyd, to carry the reader back to the tragic history of the clash between the San people and European Settlers.

Photographs and recorded interviews of five San imprisoned at Breakwater are highlighted and their descriptions of the land they came from and the families they left behind, as well as the rock engravings they made, are used to reunite them with their landscape.

It was the belief of the San people that in spirit they would never leave the land whatever the fate of the body. Their rock paintings are a vivid portrayal of their earthly and spiritual lives. The San artists were inspired to create their masterpieces by the harsh and beautiful living world in which they lived. Their art depicts clashes with settlers as well as flora and fauna now sadly driven from the Southwestern and Eastern Cape.

The authors superimpose photo images of the Breakwater prisoners on the modern landscape to symbolically return the San to their spirit home. While this procedure could end up looking like tricksy graphics, the end result is challenging and emotional.

My Heart Stands in the Hill ISBN 1 77007 125 3 has remarkable and beautiful photography by Craig Foster and clear, sympathetic prose from Janette Deacon. Published by Struik in hardcover with dust jacket, it retails at R295.95. - Sheina Wood




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