Chclt had a chat with a real sweetheart, Carey Chanquin, about her latest photo exhibition called Gurly, having her launch just a few corners away from Aneesa’s and Cosy Corner, in the coloured homeland of Wynberg, and her dreams of photographing the world.
She graduated in 2012 from CPUT with a national diploma in Graphic Design, had just completed a project in January that entailed a series of photos titled Curating Coloureds and most recently, released her most personal photographs in an exhibition called Gurly.
What did you do after graduating?
After graduating, I was at home for five months then went to a company called Pixel Fairy; they’re a German company and I interned for a month. The post said graphic design but I ended up just doing powerpoint presentations. I got put on night shifts until 12 a.m so I quit after two weeks. I then interned at M&A Design which turned into a contract as they offered me a position as junior designer. I unfortunately couldn’t stay on then went back to being unemployed. I did a few odd jobs at Bang Bar Club, taking photos and then eventually ended up at Woolworths as a creative communications coordinator, and now in visual merchandising as a mid weight designer. It’s not my dream job but it pays the bills.
“If I could quit my job and never go back to design, I’ll be fine with it. I’d do elements of design, but it’s not my line”.
What was the whole idea behind Curating Coloureds?
At first it wasn’t supposed to be anything hectic; I just wanted to take pictures with cool coloureds. I always have these ideas running through my head and when I get it, I want to take pictures. That’s my outlet. I just wanted to show the positive side; there could be negative connotations attached to coloured people but I feel like we’re so colourful, bright and we are so creative. I wanted to show that side, the lighter side to Curating Coloureds. This was just an online thing; I would like to do a second part and then have an exhibition as a collective. All photos from Curating Coloureds were taken with a disposable camera.
She plans to base the second part of Curating Coloureds around the next generation. Her idea will be to shoot the parents and grandparents of the individuals shot in part one, linking their relationship and connecting cultures and style.
“I love old people; they’re really cute!”
How did you get into photography?
I always knew I was going to do something in design, I just wasn’t always into photography. My friend Chad Carolissen and I did it as a subject at tech when he told me that I have a very good eye for this and I should take it up. The more photos I took, the more I fell in love. My friends used my photos for their assignments and got higher marks than me.
“I got the most experience when Youngsta asked me to take photos at his events; we went to school together and we’re really tight, so I went to all of his events as his photographer and this is how I got into it and where it all started”.
What was the build up like to Gurly?
I studied with Mo from Fok and always told him that I wanted to do a photobook with all my pictures and he’s always been a constant support and I am so appreciative of his friendship. We hung out after tech and he was always there to help me and was meant to do illustrations for the book when we parted ways for a while. I’ve been collecting the pictures for the past three years so when we met up again and I told him I finally finished it, I asked if I could host the exhibition at his studio when he offered his old designated house that he plans on using for future galleries and exhibitions.
What is Gurly about?
So Gurly is me. I wanted a name for the book and looking at how I was going to brand it. I also wanted to become a Dj but then everyone jumped on that bandwagon and I let it slide. I don’t want to put my name on it because I don’t want to be too attached to my work, in the fact that I like the mystery and it’s just another gurly doing her thing. It’s not anything too personal; I just liked the name and how it sounded.
“If I were ever to become a Dj or something, I would become Gurly, because I’m just another gurly”.
The images are not just based around Cape Town coloureds, but also Cape Town culture and a bit of how I see Cape Town. The book was personal for me but I didn’t want to be too attached to it. I just thought I’d share my personal work with everyone but keep it from a distance. I’ve always wanted people to see my work and I thought this is the best way to do it.
What is your favourite Gurly photo?
I think the one of my sister Lisa. At the time, my pit bull had attacked her and she was still healing as she had stitches in her eye. I took that picture on my phone and took a few on my camera; we were playing around and my mom freaked out when she came home! This picture is a very raw image of her and if I could describe Lisa, that’s her mood. If I could capture her in a picture, that would be her. She’s not super girly but she’s got a mean streak in her and very straight forward.
So what was it like hosting an exhibition in the Southern Suburbs?
I went to the house one evening, we were chatting and walking through the halls and I just got this feeling. I saw the pink room and got so excited as my ultimate favourite obsession is pink, even though I don’t wear it. I wanted it to be moody and the lighting to be perfect. If I didn’t have a budget, I would’ve done so much more in a good way but in the end, it was everything I had imagined it to be; I brought the concept to life so I’m very happy and can’t complain about anything. There were a few people that I met for the first time that follow me on Instagram and I thank them so much for coming.
“It’s a gold mine” – Carey
The event was hosted on a Friday night at Mo’s old vacant home in Wynberg from 18:00 to 21:00, the rooms perfectly set up for the exhibition and the only limitations were sound restrictions, being in a residential area. There was the usual panic before the event as two of the framed pictures fell off the wall just before the event started and the lights arrived late but everything pulled together in the end.
I wanted each room to have a theme and I wanted my pictures to compliment the room and tell a story in your own interpretation of what it could be. It was very minimal.
Where to from here?
My dream is to quit my job and teach in China so that I can travel. I’m going to Hong Kong and Bali at the end of the year. I’ll be going with my best friend and it’ll be like our birthday presents to each other. As I grow, I would love to do it full time and make a living off it.
All my prints will be sold online.