AboutWembley to Soweto is an extraordinary photographic journey of over 60 photographic images shot by disadvantaged teenagers from Johannesburg townships, exhibited for the first time at the gallery@oxo, Oxo Tower Wharf on London's South Bank in July.
Capturing the spirit of their South African homeland and sensitively communicating its diverse culture and society, the images show the young photographers' surroundings, a celebration at a Soweto Baptist church, Jo'burg's edgy street markets,a Soweto street, and the opening of the World Cup, among other poignant shots.
The project's beginnings go back to 1988 with a shot of the Free Nelson Mandela concert at Wembley Stadium by internationally renowned photographer John Cole. This image hangs on the wall of Nelson's Mandela's Johannesburg home. Twenty-two years on, and with this original image in mind, John Cole together with actor/producer David Westhead of Wilton Pictures set up a photography course to teach 8 teenagers from Soweto's Umuzi Photo Club the fundamentals of photography. The project is supported by Mandela's grandson Kweku.
Now a second iconic stadium image, this time of the 2010 South African World Cup kick-off Concert, at a packed Orlando Stadium in Soweto, shot by Wembley to Soweto students, has taken its proud place next to John Cole's image on Nelson Mandela's wall.
Involvement with the project has helped empower the young people to fulfill their hopes and dreams. Participants have been awarded full scholarships and bursaries to photographic colleges, had work published in magazines including Marie-Claire, have completed shoots for Vodacom and the South African Parliament and had images exhibited in top galleries in New York, Antwerp and Johannesburg.