SCAPE Process #7 (Installation)

When considering how to install my final six photographs, I considered a few things.

I first considered the size. I ideally wanted to have A3 size photographs, when I test printed them, the quality was really bad. The images taken on a digital camera were okay, but the images taken on film camera’s weren’t a good enough quality to be blown up to A3. I knew after the test print that I needed to print them at a smaller size.

With that in mind, I decided that I would frame the images. Framing them have them a very ‘homely’ feel to them as opposed to an ‘exhibition’ feel. I printed the images 8×10 inches and framed them into black bordered frames.


I next considered my space.


With the room not being immediately seen as symmetrical in terms of it’s wall space, I was slightly worried in how I would put up an even amount of photographs. This is only due to my own liking of having things be symmetrical.

My immediate thought was to then only use one side of the room. By using one side, I felt that it would pull attention to the images. Also, I thought that if I place each image on it’s own, it might make the room look cluttered.

If I were to have all 6 images on one side of the room, it would look somewhat like this:

4 and 2 layout4 in a row layout

Once I placed the first two images on the wall, I photoshopped the top and bottom ones. I felt that they would be too high and too low from the average eye line. This would make it uneasy to view for the audience.

Emma then suggested to place one on each wall. I still had a reservations about placing one image per wall and was extremely hesitant to do it.

Before I hung up the images, I placed them below where I would hang them in order to see if it would be as cluttered as I thought it would be. Also to see the order of the images:


I lastly decided to switch the placement of my grandfathers image and the image of the hats with each other. I felt that the hat image was a good aesthetic follow up from the image of the Madiba Man. I also feel that the image of my grandfather is one of the strongest images to me personally.


Final Installation:





My final photographic series consists of six images. Each can stand on it’s own while still working together as a series.

My final series is called “to the sun”. This is because the series is somewhat of an ode towards my family who are my sun. It’s an ode to my culture and my time growing up. It shows my foundation, my beginning and end.

My paternal grandmother Mary, whom we call ‘Ouma’. Here she’s photographed in her house in Elsies River, Cape Town in 2008. The same house where my dad and his siblings were born and raised, and where she still lives today.
Cape Minstrels photographed in 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. The day this photograph was taken was on ‘South African Day’ which was a celebration of South African culture and South Africans living in New Zealand
At a football event in Cape Town, South Africa, taken in 2014. A year after Nelson Mandela’s death, and the people of South Africa still honour him like never before
Taken in 2008 at a mall in South Africa called ‘Zevenwacht’. This image shows the vibrancy of the culture through something as simple as hats
from left to right: Family friend Erin Plaatjies and my cousin Azaylea Wildschutt. Hair is such a prominent aspect of all African culture. It bears so much uniqueness in terms of its texture, aesthetic and the way it needs to be treated.
My grandfather Frederick, whom we call ‘Dedda’, standing outside the house I was brought up in. Once we moved to New Zealand, my maternal grandparents moved into our house. My grandfather acts as a ‘pool boy’ when it comes to our pool, it is his pride and joy


SCAPE Process #5 (Refining Images)

After collating and looking at all of the images, I started the editing and refinement process.

I decided to that I would exclude the images of the people from Uni and focus solely on the images that show my family and culture. I feel that the images from BCE feel and aesthetically are very disconnected from the other images from throughout the years.

Also, from looking at the images, I feel that the black and white editing effect won’t work well in this series. I feel that by adding the black and white effect it adds an ageing element to the photographs that I don’t want. It takes away the purity of the images and the time of when it was taken.

The following images are my favourite ones out of all of them:


I first printed these images onto paper so that I could see how all of these looked together as a series


After looking at the images all together, I was able to then further refine the series because I could see that some of the images didn’t look good printed out (meaning they looked better digitally). I also found that particular images went together aesthetically and thematically. Those images are the ones with blue tags next to them (on the image above).

I then refined further from the images with blue tags.


The 15 images above, tell a story of culture and family dynamic. The way I positioned them was to show which ones worked well together aesthetically. I feel that they’re all strong photographs and work well together in the sense of it telling a story but I do feel as though they don’t all collectively work well aesthetically. Due to this I needed to refine the images down further to a point where the narrative was still there but that they were visually coherent as well.


I chose the above 7 out of the 15. The photograph placed at the bottom was a possiblity because I love the photo and wasn’t ready to cut it out just yet. However I felt as though it didn’t fit with the other 6 images that I was already decided on.

So I decided to put it to the side, and figure out figurations for the above 6 images and then see if the bottom 7th image would fit into it.


Although the narrative of family dynamics and South African culture can be seen by all 6 photographs, I felt as though the image with the blue colour palette wasn’t going well with the others. There was too much blue in the image, and that distracts from the other images which are all strong individually but also don’t overshadow each other.

I then replaced said image with the standby 7th image:


I aesthetically enjoy these photographs together as a series of 6 much more than the other combination. Each photograph has a ‘buddy’ in a sense in terms of the photographs content. There a two images with single figures in them, there are two that are extremly busy and have a lot of noise in them. And there are two that make you question what was happening in that moment while at the same time being quite obvious in what’s happening.

Using photographer Gordon Parks as inspiration (See attached Video ‘to the sun: tamlyn theys’ on ‘SCAPE Process #3 (Stopping the project)’ for examples of his work), I noticed that his series’ of photographs have a similar aesthetic. Meaning that his photographs were tinted so that they colouring of the content of the image didn’t impact the narrative but rather made the series flow better together.

I decided to try tinting the 6 images to see if it made a difference:

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 9.36.08 pm

The images definitely have an even more coherent look and feel to them without losing the story behind them. The tinting gives the photographs a somewhat nostalgic feel to them yet they don’t feel old either.

SCAPE Process #4 (All Images)

Since I now had a clear direction on my process, I needed to collate the images I’ve taken throughout the years of my family. I decided to only collect the images that I feel fitted with the Diaspora and reflective aspect I wanted for the series.

I also decided to include images that I’ve taken here at Unitec so that the photographs show somewhat of a life journey from then to now.

At this stage, I haven’t decided how many images I want for the final or how I would display them or exactly how I want them to look. I feel that that will come later on


With some of the images, I edited the vibrance of them and changed some to black and white to test out various styles for the images.


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BCE 2017

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SCAPE Process #3 (Stopping the Project)

After taking the test shots, I began to feel extremely homesick. Being homesick didn’t take the questions away though. What is my culture? Where do I fit in it? How do others view it? How can I reflect this into a project that supposed to be based around the area which surrounds Unitec?

I started to question the direction of my project in terms of the various mediums and the directions of each individual medium (photography, moving image and graphic design).

I decided that I no longer wanted to include the moving image and graphic design aspects in the project. I feel that they wouldn’t be adding anything to the project. I want to stick to the photography but I no longer want to do staged photographs.

My natural style of photography is documentary, and I feel that I need to do what I’m comfortable with.

When thinking about my culture and how I wish to move forward, I realised through research that with South Africa being so diverse, it’s impossible to generalize the culture into one statement. However, the basis of all the cultures within South Africa is family. I wish to explore this through the remainder of the Scape Project, while interjecting all the pervious research too.

To fulfil the rest of the Scape Project, I need to ensure that I’m honest with myself. I need to be honest with what my culture is and how it can be viewed by others in an authentic way. I need to start from scratch in a sense.

I need to do this by reflecting upon myself. Since I’ll be turning 20 next year, this year is my final year as a teenager. Perhaps that means something in relation to the project.

I’ve decided to write a letter to myself in order to be honest with myself in a tactile way, rather than just thoughts in my head. Being 19, Im in the final year of being able to use the excuse “Im a teenager”. I feel that by reflecting on myself, my life and my teenage years, I may be able to get a clear direction of where I wish to go with the SCAPE Project.

“a letter to my teenage self” by TAMLYN THEYS

Sometimes there will be fear. Not enough of it. A lot of it. Sometimes there will be successes. Not enough of it. A lot of it. Sometimes you’ll want to reach the sky but can’t quite touch it. You will delicately hover your finger over it like it’s the rope wrapped around your feet that drags you down. You will take a long time to reach the clouds. The long time will become a theme in your life, but it’s a journey that you are learning how to love.

Before you dive into the rest of your life, you’re going to plunge into phases of being sure of who you are, where you come from and where you’re going.

Several of these phases include:

  • The dance-at-every-waking-moment (aka “I’m going to dance with Beyoncé”) phase
  • The football-player-olympic-athletic phase (which challenged the I’m-going-to-be-in-glee-club phase)
  • The tomboy-super-straight-hair-undercover-spy phase
  • The pretend-I’m-white-with-a-tan phase
  • The regina-george-meets-urkel-popular-kid-who’s-from-an-exotic-place phase

During those phases, you are looking in all the hidden caves of the world for who you are. But relax, sweetie pie. Take your time. There’s no rush because you’ll get there with time. You don’t have to have everything figured out today or tomorrow. Only time with tell.

Sometimes you’re going to push the boundaries of these phases, and when you’re feeling confident and willing to show the world that this is who you are, your peers will call you names. “weird, loser, ugly, not-from-here.”  Don’t worry. One day you will embrace them and name yourself. The names that had been placed on you will be forgotten and only the name you have given yourself will remain.

Sorry to say that you’ll still be called these names now and possibly when you’re an adult. But at this point, you have already held onto some of them so they don’t mean the same to you as they did back in the day. They don’t have the same power over you. You will realise that you control what and how much power these words have. Sticks and stones.

On the topic of words, you’re going to eventually fall in love with them. It’ll be a lust that turns out to only be masking the love you’re afraid to admit to yourself because you’re embarrassed. You think it’s dorky. It’s not. You could spend hours just you and your words, writing down your thoughts. They make you feel acknowledged and understood despite the fact that you’re having conversations with yourself.

Put trust into those words, even when you’re feeling ashamed by them. Cherish them. Keeping using them. Later These will become a friend to you, that is always there for you no matter what.

God has been good to you. There is a lot you could ask him to take back. And there’s also a long list of things that you’d like to share your appreciation to him for. In the meantime, let’s just mention three of those things:

  • That you held your tongue when your teacher was yelling at you when you were getting in trouble for skipping French class because you had no ‘valid’ explanation, even though you had spent that period crying. Good on ya
  • That you moved to New Zealand. I seriously doubt that you’d have the same appreciation for South Africa or be the same person you are today if you hadn’t of been exposed to such a different culture, different types of people and experimented with the way you look so that you could fit in here
  • That he chose your family be your family

They are a wonder to you. You sit back and watch as everyone walks into Mama’s house one by one with a theme song for their entrances, stands around waiting for someone to pray, lines up like at a buffet restaurant for the food, laughter spilling out from everyone’s mouths while having a meal and ending the night with a competitive game of dominos with all the love in the world. They are your sun. You’re like the moon, able to shine using the suns light and the sun never asks for anything in return. It’s always there and its always going to shine for you. The beauty will always be there. They are the sun.

You now understand that by watching a family spend time together with love, will make you feel supreme. Like you can do whatever you want and that no one has the power to tell you anything different. You often take them for granted but you know with every inkling in your mind, body and soul; that they’re exceptional. You’re surrounded by South African culture at its finest, it shines bright. You study it and constantly remember the stories and moments you hear and witness. You see the beauty. They re-write the scripts you’ve read about and seen in TV and movies of what it means to be South African and African, so you now throw those out the window.

Since you have your families blood, you’re independent. Almost to a fault. You put a lot of pressure on yourself and end up taking on too many things to the point where you burn out. You shut down. You spend hours in your room watching video after video but not actually watching anything, just staring blankly at a screen.

Sometimes it’s okay to feel that way. It doesn’t make you less like your family in any way. It doesn’t make you less independent. The sun will always rise.

Age seventeen is going to be the hardest year of your life. It will make you change your perspective of what it means to live through the loss of a life. You will lose a very important person to you (whom you love so much and you took for granted) to suicide.

You will be broken. But sooner or later you will learn how to love, appreciate and exist in ways that are seen by others as being ‘weird’. You will put the broken pieces of yourself back into place and slowly build yourself back up again into a different person. I don’t know who that person is, because right now we’re still at the beginning stages of the build.

Who knows how much more life you have inside of you to give. It’s not always going to be easy but I promise that it will be filled with beauty. And it will be bright.

There will probably be aching. There most likely will be unknown and there will probably be the doubt. But the sun will most definitely be there . There will be many moments of happiness and satisfaction that the world will be filled with such divine wonder.  There will be times when the joys of life are so overwhelming that it will knock the wind out of you and leave speechless. And there will be times when you’re so sad that you can’t even draw a smile on your face. But you’ll be okay. You have South Africa. You have your sun. And you have yourself.

I will love you forever,

T x

Upon reflection, I found that my family are truly my pride and joy and that is what I wish to focus on for the rest of my project while still bring it back to the connection to site by it being that I am here in Unitec and my family is how I got here.

My new project:

A photojournalistic approach chronicling my families’ diaspora from South Africa from 2005 till present day in 2017. Using images I have taken throughout the specified years that show a glimpse into what our lives have consisted of up until this moment, where I am here at Unitec. I am here reflecting on it all.

Below is my Storyworlds Research assignment in order for you to have a clearer understanding of the context of the work:

SCAPE Process #2 (Test Shots)

Using the inspiration from my research, I first performed a test shoot with my little brother Matthew, who is 8 years old. I performed the test shoot mimicking Robert Pruitt and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings.


Best shots:


I then went on to do simple test shots using Jack Short, Mahan Asadi and Tameem Saloojee. These test shots were to try out various other stances I could later place the people in when I do the proper photoshoot


SCAPE Process #1 (Research)

For the photographic series, I would like to create images that demonstrate a majestic and regal image of South African culture and people. By referencing the works of Solange and Carlota Guerrero (as stated in the Presentation) I already know the aesthetic direction of the images.

For me to know how I would show the regality and majesty in the photographs, I needed to do more research on specific poses that show strength and power.

The first practitioner whose work I looked at, was American artist Robert Pruitt. He paints various figures in stances that show their awareness of who they are and of where they come from.

Since I am questioning my position and ultimately my culture, I find that by placing figures in positions of awareness would help to answer those questions in an indirect way. Using Pruitt as inspiration, I would place the figures in my photographs in positions replicating his paintings in homage to him. In the process, I may find other positions that aren’t mimicking Pruitt’s previously established stances and create my own.

Another practitioner I looked at was a Ghanaian-British artist named Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, whom I found through looking at images of Pruitt’s work. Her paintings explore what it’s like to grow up as a person of color. She portrays people of color in a normal sense and not in a celebratory context. This is something that is rare when it comes to people of color, typically art work that consists of people of color are celebrating them rather than showing them in an everyday situation.

I also used the film ‘For Colored Girls’, which was directed by Tyler Perry, as inspiration.  The film explores their lives as the deal with the struggles of being a woman of color, and coming together to find the strength that lies in being a woman of colour.


I saw this film when I was 13 years old, on a Friday night when hiring movies on a Friday night was still a thing. My parents had told me about the film and said that they wanted me to watch it, so in approaching the film I wasn’t enthusiastic not even in the slightest. It was only after the film was over, that I realized why it was so important to my parents that I see this film. It wasn’t because I am a woman or that I’m a woman of color. It was because I am a human being of color. This film shows the strength that comes with being a person of color, regardless of culture or nationality. It was then, at 13, that I could see the strength I felt from my skin tone, being reflected in a way that communicated that feeling in a visual way.

Remembering this film and using it as a reference point, made me realize how to combine Pruitt and Yiadom-Boakye’s inspiration into my photographs. I plan to do so by taking images where the figures are shown in a light-hearted manner yet positioned in powerful stances. I have decided that the figures I will use will only be people of color. This will then refer back to ‘For Colored Girls’ by being a reference point for showing the power of people of color in a visual way rather through a compositional way.

Scape Presentation

Link to first presentation: Tamlyn Theys Project Framework

After my first presentation, the main point of my feedback was that I needed to create a stronger link from the site to the theme of my proposed project

I have done so, and in doing so my proposed project has changed completely.

The site I have now chosen is Unitec Institute of Technology and since the students that are studying with me are culturally diverse, i am constantly surrounded and exposed to a variety of different cultures. This has made me want to reflect and understand where i stand and what my view is of my own culture.

Therefore i propose to create a project of me discovering who i am within my own culture by creating a  photographic series that could be accompanied by graphic design in terms of inspiration and the final output possibly being a publication of sorts. As well as a moving image piece to extend the project


Link to reworked presentation: Tamlyn Theys project framework Reworked

*I have included hyperlinks in my name on slide 1, as well as on the play buttons on various slides in order for you to possibly see my vision clearly*



Verb: Leap

Links to each Pinterest board for each week:


The research above was collected through curiosity. When developing my ideas on how to portray ‘Leap’ I was dead set on the idea of doing so through the form of blobs from jump. However, I was curious of the different ways in which I could do so and the different mediums that I could use. The images collected from artists such as Dan Lam, Louise Zhang and James Nares showed me a great deal of various compositional techniques that are suited to a blob-like form. For example, having the image or object be bigger than the frame. Which to me suggests the idea of the form being ‘larger than life’ which is what I wanted to portray; a form that was obvious yet incomprehensible and larger than life all within its own right. I feel that my research allowed me to feel comfortable in the techniques used to create all the pieces, as well as allowing me to have some confidence in using unfamiliar materials such as expanding foam and hot glue.

The work by Dan Lam was a big turning point in my research and practice. Her works are colorful and gruesome yet they have a beauty to them. This meaning is what showed ‘leap’ to me, more so than the physical works because it’s leaping from one extreme (gruesome) to the opposite (beauty). Her works inspired me in week three to use the new medium of expanding foam, to replicate the cloud-like forms made in week two. All the images and works collected over the past four weeks have opened my mind up to new possibilities, mainly regarding different mediums. I could learn how to use as well as see new mediums in a finish product that I didn’t think was attainable previously.