Christopher Rimmer on Capturing Namibia's Ghost Towns


Words by Charlotte Hughes.

Images by Christopher Rimmer.

Southern Son

Christopher Rimmer’s fascination with Namibia began in 2009 when he included images of the Himba people in his ground breaking ‘In Africa’ exhibition. Since then, he has visited Namibia several times and travelled the length and breadth of the country documenting the landscape, the wildlife and the people of this unique country through the lens of his camera.

Christopher Rimmer, namibia photography, namibia, kolmanskop, elizabeth bay, Angela Tandori Fine Art Gallery, Galerie Huraux, New York Art Expo

Chris’ forthcoming exhibition, ‘Sign of Life’ opens in Reims, New York and Melbourne in 2014 and features stunning, large scale photographs of the ghost towns of Elizabeth Bay and Kolmanskop.

Christopher Rimmer, namibia photography, namibia, kolmanskop, elizabeth bay, Angela Tandori Fine Art Gallery, Galerie Huraux, New York Art Expo

‘I was at Etosha Pan in 2010,’ recalls Rimmer, ‘ the BBC were out there filming for, what later became the ground breaking ‘Africa’ television series and one of the crew happened to show me some images on his phone one night of the ruins at Elizabeth Bay and Kolmanskop,  where they had been filming footage of Hyenas.’

Christopher Rimmer, namibia photography, namibia, kolmanskop, elizabeth bay, Angela Tandori Fine Art Gallery, Galerie Huraux, New York Art Expo

‘I was immediately struck by the stark beauty and the poignancy of these structures  slowly being re-claimed by the desert sands and resolved to travel there and document them before they disappeared from view completely.'

Christopher Rimmer, namibia photography, namibia, kolmanskop, elizabeth bay, Angela Tandori Fine Art Gallery, Galerie Huraux, New York Art Expo

Rimmer, who was shortlisted for Black & White Photographer of the Year in 2012, travelled to the area twice spending a total of three weeks meticulously compiling images with a large format camera, this time in glorious colour. The resulting collection is a visual examination of what he terms the ‘tragedy of lost significance’ and the ‘ultimate futility of human endeavour.

Christopher Rimmer, namibia photography, namibia, kolmanskop, elizabeth bay, Angela Tandori Fine Art Gallery, Galerie Huraux, New York Art Expo

‘I have always found the quality of light in Namibia extraordinary, he says, ‘There is no doubt that it is a paradise for photography. The way the light reflects the landscape is truly unique. This was even more so around the ghost towns of Karas. The way the light enters the buildings at various times of the day provided some amazing opportunities for ambient light photography. You have to put in the time though; you can’t expect to capture the essence of the place on a single day trip.

Christopher Rimmer, namibia photography, namibia, kolmanskop, elizabeth bay, Angela Tandori Fine Art Gallery, Galerie Huraux, New York Art Expo

‘What makes the ghost towns really impressive is how substantial the structures are. These people thought they’d be here forever yet, within barely 50 years the place was completely deserted. It’s like walking through a lost world. I found the experience incredibly moving and I have tried to articulate that sense of loss in my work.’

Christopher Rimmer, namibia photography, namibia, kolmanskop, elizabeth bay, Angela Tandori Fine Art Gallery, Galerie Huraux, New York Art Expo

The images Rimmer presents in the Sign of Life exhibition are both disturbing and beautiful and are a timely reminder of the power of nature over human enterprise in this era of climate change.

Christopher Rimmer, namibia photography, namibia, kolmanskop, elizabeth bay, Angela Tandori Fine Art Gallery, Galerie Huraux, New York Art Expo

Dates and exhibition venues for 'Sign of Life'

New York Art Expo
Pier 94, NYC, April 4 - 6

Galerie Huraux
21 rue Tambour, 51100, Reims, France. (Date to Be announced)

Angela Tandori Fine Art Gallery
55 Victoria Pde, Collingwood, Melbourne, Australia (Date to be announced)

Visit Christopher Rimmer’s website here.

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