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Magic Maker

A Tribute To Photographer Marguerite Oelofse

By the time JAN the Journal’s first issue launched, the JAN aesthetic was already well established. Marked by a certain painterly quality reminiscent of the Dutch Masters, the interior of Restaurant JAN soon became a talking point in Nice, Jan Hendrik’s adopted hometown, further cemented by the visual feasts of his first two cookbooks. The launch of the Journal, then, had to somehow capture something of the brand’s essence, making the decision of who to work with vital to the success of the publication. Choosing Cape Town based photographer Marguerite Oelofse’s unique, high art style was a no brainer. Her body of work is, simply put, overwhelmingly beautiful and thought provoking. We are incredibly excited, then, that she has recently been recognised on an international platform.

Earlier this year, Marguerite was awarded two prestigious accolades. She won the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year (African Territory) as well as the Claire Aho Award for Women Photographers. Thousands of entries were submitted from over 60 countries for this competition. Her winning photographs are currently being exhibited at the Royal Photographic Society in Bristol from 19 November – 11 December 2022, where her work will be available to view Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 – 17:00. The exhibition is free to enter.

“My love for art and storytelling allows my heart to express my artistic soul,” Marguerite says, “It’s my passion.” Her haunting photograph, “At the Table”, celebrates her African heritage, which she says is fused with a touch of inispiration from French Post-Impressionist artist Henri Matisse. “My painting-like photographic aesthetic expresses an almost inexplicable, rich culture by working with bold colour, form and texture – all elements that are native to are native to our diverse South African culture.”

AT THE TABLE

This photograph is a celebration of the fruits of our freedom as a nation, and was part of a series of images shot in studio in the style of post-impressionist art. We worked with a young model together in the studio. My team consisted of a fashion (Gavin Mikey Collins) and floral stylist (the JAN brand’s very own Alwijn Burger), hair and make-up artist (Melissa van Zyl) and of course, Marguerite herself as the photographer.

In the photograph, the young girl holds a nartjie in her hands, peeling the layers of this bright orange fruit and dividing each segment to be eaten. This action symbolises the diversity of South Africa’s culture and its people. “We are a resilient and vibrant nation with many aspects, a united country, our South Africa,” says Marguerite.

FLOWER GIRL WITH A PACKET OF SIMBA CHIPPIES

“This photograph explores and celebrates visual iconoclast culture and its pure beauty,” Marguerirte says. “We chose to feature the beauty of the Malay flower girl.”

Historically, a Malay Wedding day is a celebration of visual splendour, with no detail spared, dressing the bride’s flower girls in the finest lace fabrics, earrings, tiaras and flowers. The Cape Malays are residents from Cape Town, a community rich in culture and religious traditions. The term Cape Malay comes from the time of the Dutch settlers sending thousands of labourers and slaves as exiles from the colonies of the Dutch East Indies. Cape Malay communities played a significant role in shaping the history, diversity and food culture of Cape Town.

This shot was taken in the Bo-Kaap at “The Rose Corner Café”, a national landmark that is over 100 years old. Along with my team, I photographed a series of images, editorial style, working with hard, mid-day, bright sunlight. My team consisted of a fashion director (Bev Nates), floral stylist (Alwijn Burger), hair and make-up. The girl in the picture is Oluvuyo. In this picture, the model is eating a packet of Simba Chips (crisps), South Africa’s favourite potato snack.

ABOUT THE PINK LADY PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR AWARDS

The awards celebrate the world’s finest food photography and film, showing every aspect of food and its place in society, at a time when food has never been more important and more central to our lives. This exciting exhibtioon, now in its eleventh year, opens for the second time outside of London at the Royal Photographic Society, Bristol.

ABOUT MARGUERITE OELOFSE

Marguerite’s lifelong fascination with beautiful images eventually led her to Joburg’s National School of the Arts. After Graduation, she spent three years working in Cape Town and Berlin, where her work began taking on its signature ‘painter’ style. Her love for art and storytelling allows her heart to express her artistic soul – it is her passion. Her painting-like photographic aesthetic expresses an almost inexplicable rich culture. It explores and celebrates visual iconoclast culture and its pure beauty. She has just completed her studies towards a Post Graduate Diploma in Brand Building – a future investment in skills to strategise visual trends in food photography and branding.