London based photographer Jillian Edelstein was born and grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. She began working as a press photographer in Johannesburg on the Rand Daily Mail and the Star. In 1985 she emigrated to London to study at the London College of Printing. Her portraits have appeared in many publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Interview. She has worked on campaigns for Comic Relief, The Dogs Trust, The National Theatre, The National Portrait Gallery, Abbot Mead Vickers BBDO, EMI, UNICEF, Save The Children Fund, and The Royal Shakespeare Company.
She has received several awards including the Kodak UK Young Photographer of the Year in 1986, Photographers Gallery Portrait Photographer of the Year Award 1990, the Visa d’Or at the International Festival of Photojournalism in Perpignan in 1997, the European Final Art Polaroid Award in 1999, the John Kobal Book Award 2003. Between 1996 and 2002 she returned to South Africa frequently to document the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Her award-winning book Truth and Lies, shot in large format was published by Granta in 2002. Her photographs have been exhibited internationally at venues including the National Portrait Gallery, The Photographers Gallery, The Royal Academy New Art Space, the Tom Blau Gallery in London, the Recontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, France, the Bensusan Museum,Johannesburg,and Robben Island Museum in Cape Town, South Africa.
She is working on the publication of her next book which includes work on her family, exploring the themes of migration and Ancestry incorporating archival images and a photo essay on the Sangoma, the traditional healers who live, heal and train in the mountains on the Lesotho/South African border.
The Photographs commissioned for Khulisa UK
I have affiliated myself with the Khulisa UK campaign because of the increasingly worrying trend noticeable in the UK in the past few years related to teenager-related violence. It is so important and urgent now to be actively dealing with the problem.
The effects of crime on young people in our society is damaging both socially and emotionally. Violent acts happen in the present but also have a profound and long term impact on victims, families and communities.
I will do whatever it takes to support the cause.
Jillian Edelstein, photographer, June 2010
Jillian was approached by Khulisa UK to enlist her creative experience, photographic expertise and passion for the cause in creating a body of portraits which would allow insight and access to the creative techniques and therapeutic processes which Khulisa employs in their programmes. Her South African origins and interests in social justice also gave the images the pathos and sensitivity which make them so strong.
I was so excited that Jillian wanted to help us – we had an incredibly intense day as she was packing up to fly off to Palestine to deliver a presentation the following morning. We had no time to prepare (I had managed to approach her only the week before, having seen her ‘Truth and Lies’ book of photographs – a visual account of the Truth and Reconcilation process in South Africa during the 90’s) and Jillian simply responded intuitively to a torrent of verbal descriptions of what I had experienced and seen on the Silence the Violence programme. As an artist myself, I was able to ‘paint the picture’ and share ideas about what I wanted to achieve. Our immediate challenges were that we could not photograph our participants – both from a security point of view (prisons will not allow photographs to be taken) but also protecting individual identities and respecting the trust and confidentiality which is core to the process. The results were fantastic, we are so proud to have Jillian’s endorsement and such powerful images to both showcase what we do but also attract public attention to our work and generate support and funding.
Skye Holland, Development Manager, Khulisa UK