Writing Art History Since 2002

First Title

For more than a century, South Africa has been associated with mineral wealth, both in diversity and abundance.


The dates for the Ernest Cole Award 2012 Winner Ilan Godfrey’s Legacy of the Mine Exhibition and Book Launch are:

Cape Town – Irma Stern Gallery from the 17th August – 21st September 2013

Durban – KZNSA Gallery from the 2nd -21st October 2013

Johannesburg – WAM from the 13th November – 13th December 2013

The accompanying book will be launched at the same time and is published by Jacana Media.

For more than a century, South Africa has been associated with mineral wealth, both in diversity and abundance. The demand for gold, diamonds, coal and platinum has gone from strength to strength, often shifting in accordance with the political economy and availability of ­foreign markets. It has helped shape the landscape, as we know it today. Mineral exploitation has brought about national economic growth, making the mining industry the largest industrial sector in South Africa.

Yet the extreme discrepancies between wealth and poverty are still visible. With money to be made and the recent creation of several mining companies under the Black Economic Empowerment program, political and economical lines are continuously being blurred as individuals with close ties to government benefit from the mining industry, leaving in their wake very little for the majority of society to benefit from.

Environmental and social impacts of mining bring with them major risks. Benefits are not always equitably shared, and local communities closest to the source of the mineral development can suffer the most. Mining can provide jobs in economically marginal areas but are limited. Communities that come to depend on mining to sustain their economies are especially vulnerable to negative social impacts, when the mine closes. Large quantities of waste from mining have contributed to ongoing and disastrous consequences. Manmade mine dumps litter Johannesburg’s skyline, adding pressure to a developing economy to find ways to tackle this latent environmental threat. 4 772 officially listed abandoned mines lie dormant across South Africa, five times higher than the number of operational mines.

Exploitation, corruption and greed threaten the land. Once a symbol of wealth and a formidable force, the mine today reveals the scars of neglect and decay and poses an irreversible threat to our society.

More about Ilan Godfrey

Ilan Godfrey is the 2012 Ernest Cole Award winner with this initial body of work. Godfrey was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1980. He has a BA degree in Photography and a MA degree in Photojournalism from the University of Westminster in London, England. He focuses on extensive issues that reflect South Africa’s constantly changing landscape, documenting the country with an in-depth, intimate and personal conscience, revealing varied aspects of societal change. His work has been recognized locally and internationally by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, The International Photography Award, Magenta Flash Forward Award, and Nikon Endframe Award among others. He has participated in the Toscana Photographic Masterclass in Italy and is the recipient of the Ivan Kyncl Memorial Photography Placement in London. Godfrey’s photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, including The National Portrait Gallery in London and Musee du Quai Branly in Paris. His photographs have been featured in a broad range of international publications.

For more information on the exhibitions or the award please visit ernestcoleaward.org or contact:
Paul Weinberg Co-ordinator Ernest Cole Award: paul.weinberg@uct.ac.za

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