In the years leading up to the 1990’s, a society in a southern region of the world was battling ideologies that were foisted on the many by an unacceptable few. Its regional isolation from main stream western culture was designed to increase the pressure on this society; pressure that suggested somewhat forcefully that the country needed to address its stance on racism in order to be re-admitted to ‘acceptable tolerances’ as perceived by prevailing western standards.

If such a mechanism was in force, then portraits of its people would eventually reveal telling points of view if assessed over the period in question. There would be indicators of social mores as the years crept by, revealed by everything from clothing to stance, and changes in acceptability, however imperceptible, would finally be revealed, almost as if one were able to flip through the pages of a book in retrospect.

..from a climate of major upheaval, societal turmoil and injustice,

ongoing violence and resultant anxiety.

Into this environment, photographer David Dodds started a Photographic Project featuring iconic women of the time, and with the intention of proceeding in a similar vein for a decade to ‘see how many things would change’. A process of a year masks change as it only represents an imperceptible current record, but over an extended period, a greater overview was likely to emerge.

The collection of images as they stand from that era cannot hang in any part of the world without an immediate query as to the origins of the sitters and the prevailing standards that would have lead to such a compilation. An analysis of the earliest images may illicit words such as breathtaking, beautiful, a tour de force, just as much as naive, immature, insecure and lacking in depth. These concepts are probably all mixed together and undeniable, and form exactly the message that was intended. One only has to understand the late 1980’s South African fixation for “Miss South Africa’s” as a replacement for a non-existent Royalty to grasp more about these realities.

It was not for a further four years from launch that nudity appeared in an acceptable form in the Project, and coincided with an astounding reversal in pornography laws that moved social standards from the puritanical to the obscene in a few short months.

From 1994, the country passed through into it’s well documented democracy. One would have expected in theory, an element of cohesion and confidence in the nation to emerge. But confidence of the sitters was elusive. Was this not also a reflection of a society in turmoil? The crime level through transition and onward would have forced most other civilised countries to have declared a state of emergency.

The influences brought to bear on the final images were drawn from the contexts of this Nation. These affected the input of the photographer and the extended creative team on the shoots, and followed through to the acceptance or otherwise of a reviewing public and media; an era of no internet in the early part. With the heavy media interest and as the Project became known in South Africa, questions in the very early years revolved around the inconceivable:  “Will you feature a black person?”  “Will you consider doing any nudes?”.

The potential influences on any single image were many; the perceptions of a collection, enormous.

More appreciably in 1999 and into 2000, the ability of the subjects to adopt new directives in their images & carry them off with aplomb appeared to have come to the fore. If one were to have attempted the concepts of some of the last images with a potential subject shooting in 1990, the image would simply not have materialised. Pressure from society, when subjects were overly anxious for acceptance, was simply too limiting and constrictive.

An Introduction to the Photographic Project

Photographed by David Dodds

Decades On

A Portrait of South Africa in transition.. as revealed by many of its luminous Women

Authored by Davd Dodds

with 8 parts to review

Decades on:

Raising more questions

With more than 100 people photographed from that era, the concept of revisiting the ‘original faces’ adds another potential dimension to the examination; the intrigue of seeing the process of time as life has changed them.

We may see.

Another time.

Without research and refreshed commentary, much of the transition of South Africa will be forgotten. Journalism can remind in paragraphs and short essays the content of a culture and its rites of passage.

The questions then abounded as to what was the climate of 'thinking and acceptability' in the country.

What were the cultural stand points of the late eighties that were influencing the start of the nineties? What social mores were revealed that in many cases are unthinkable decades later.?










Tessa Ziegler  Classical Guitarist  

Innocentia Moephuli  Model  

Andrea Stelzer Miss Germany, Miss South Africa  

Nolene Berry  International Model    

Rozanne Rocha  International Model    

Michelle Bruce  Miss South Africa  

Lynne de Bruyn  Revlon's Unforgettable Face

Melanie Walker  Miss Hillbrow, & TV Presenter

Aileen Joubert  International Model

Penny Rey (Coelen)  Miss World 1958

Diana Tilden Davis  Miss South Africa  

Suanne Braun  TV Presenter, LA Actress  

Suzette van der Merwe  Miss South Africa

Jayne Hutton  Miss Hillbrow and model

Sandy M'Crystal Kinnear  Miss South Africa    

Debbie Cochrane International Model

Cindy McCabe  Model of the Year

Gail McCann  International Model

Robyn Poole  Model

Jane Warden  TV Presenter

Amanda De Waal  International Model

Jana Cilliers  Actress

Edwina Sheridan  Actress

Janine Eser  Actress

Margaret Gardiner  Miss Universe and actress

Doreen Morris  TV Presenter

Wilma van de Bijl  Miss South Africa

Ashley Hayden  TV presenter, Actress

Monica Zaayman   Model

Jahan Dollie  Model

Barbara Silva   International Model  

Penny Smythe  TV Presenter

Jean Irvine   International Model

Phillippa Walters  Model

Belinda Haw, a Classic Nude for December 1995, the halfway mark.

Anneline Kriel  Miss World 1972

Chantell Stander Rankin  Actress

Sandra Prinsloo  International Actress  

Gillian van Houten  TV Presenter  

Kate Normington  Singer and Actress

Constance Masilo  TV Presenter, Actress & Model

Lena Farugia  International Actress  

Ereeza Ryland Model

Michelle Garforth  TV Presenter, MC, Actress    

Lavine Marian  Model

Theresa de Klerk  International Model    

Belinda Lawless  International Model    

Charissa Hardy  Model

Claire Johnston  Lead Singer, Mango Groove

Michelle Burgers  Actress

Roberta Little  Model


It would be great to receive your communication from my Contacts page.


The Images appear on the Website in the chronology of studio shooting,

with planning in 1990 and first Artworks released in 1991, and yearly thereafter..



SOUTH AFRICA 1990 - 2000

Wendy Oldfield       Singer

Michélle van Breda Editor, Sarie, South Africa

Leigh Toselli  Beauty Editor, International Model, Stylist

Carol Anne Becker  Miss Universe Entrant from RSA

Sandy Ngema  TV Presenter

Carry Read    Model of the Year

Amy Kleinhans-Kurd  Miss South Africa

Christel Smith  TV Actress from Egoli

Tanya Bishop  Model

Alexandra Dorrestein  Model

Anri van Rensburg  Model

Francis van Rensburg  Model

Marianne Fassler Fashion Designer  

Anna-Mart van de Merwe       Actress  

Basetsane Makgalamele  Miss South Africa

Yvonne Chaka Chaka  Singer / Entertainer

Abigail Kubeka Singer / Entertainer     

Alana Ross    International Model

Dali Shezi    Model

Tatum Leigh Williams  Model

Bernalee Daniel  Miss South Africa

Olivera Jokic  International Model  

Gerry Williams  TV Presenter

Shelley Russouw  International Model

Edith Venter  Socialite

Khanyi Dhlomo Mkhize    Editor, TV Presenter & Publisher

Tasmin Tobbit  International Model

Megan Howells  Miss Sandton and Model

Jacqui Mofokeng  Miss South Africa

Jackie Davids  TV Actress

Leigh Downing Joubert    Model Agent

Laura Steed  Actress and Model

Annie Malan  Actress

Phumla Majola  Model

Lenah Zinyama  Model

Jenna Clifford  Jeweller and Motivational Guru

Christina Storm  Model and Actress

Thusani Mulaudzi  Model

Princess Nandi Zulu  House of Royal Zulu

Luzette De Villiers  Housewife

Felicia Mabuza-Suttle  Television Presenter

Karin Barnard  Wife of Professor Chris Barnard

Kerishnie Naicker  1998 Miss South Africa

Sandy McCormack  Former Miss South Africa

Amanda Coetzer  Top SA tennis star

Michelle McClean  Former Miss Universe finalist

Odette & Olivia Scrooby  Former Miss SA &/ former Miss SA Finalist

Candice Hillebrand  Television presenter

Candice Rabinowitz  U-18 World Karate champion

Anne Vine Morris  Top International model

Juliana Venter  SA opera & rock star

Anita Olckers  Pretoria model