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Alexia Webster Photography Born in 1979 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
A spirit of the pine forest.A young Nguni calf, a breed of cattle indigenous to southern Africa, roams the forests and plateau's of Hogsback, a mist forest village in the Amatola mountains of the Eastern Cape of South Africa.A young man, wearing a suit and hat and clay of his face that shows he has recently completed the traditional Xhosa rite of passage to manhood, relaxes against his car in the forestry workers village in Hogsback.       Looking out across an ocean of clouds which covers the world below, the village of Hogsback in the Amatola mountains rises 1400m above sea level.A mother and son outside their wattle and daub home in Hogsback. Nineteen years after the fall of apartheid, the disparities and inequalities of the past are largely still in place.An old pine tree, not indigenous to South Africa, stands on the side of the road.The weekly game at the Hogsback Bowling Club.The milky way hangs thick above the forests of Hogsback.

Project Description

In 1932 my great grandfather, Reverend A J Cook, bought a piece of land in Hogsback, a village nestled high up in the forests of the Amatola Mountains in South Africa.

Cloaked in mist and magic, it has been thought of as sacred ground by many the generations of people who have lived in Hogsback. Before the bloody frontier wars and before missionaries and settlers appropriated the land for homes and pine plantations, people would take their cattle up the mountain to graze, believing that it was in these ancient forests that their ancestors spirits resided.

Despite its beauty and charm, Hogsback holds a sad and complex history that in many ways mirrors the pain and contradictions that South Africa has faced. By the 1960s apartheid laws had rezoned Hogsback as an all-white area. Black people were no longer allowed to own land on the mountain and could only live in the village as temporary residents in the back yards of their employers.

Nineteen years after the fall of apartheid, the village is still a hauntingly beautiful but unsettled landscape struggling to come to terms with the ghosts of its past and the inequalities of the present.

This project explores the village now and searches for a glimpses of those spirits, including my own ancestors, who roam these ancient and haunted forests.

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