George Hallett is a South African photographer. In the early 1970s he was living in exile in London. Just before he left South Africa he had photographed District Six, an area of Cape Town that the apartheid regime was preparing to raze to the ground. In 1971 he was commissioned by the Times Educational Supplement to take photographs of Handsworth to illustrate an article entitled Handsworth: Caribbean Black Country. The article was written as a result of the Race in the Inner City report which had been published by the Runnymede Trust earlier in the year.
After taking the photographs in Handsworth, Hallett lived and worked in Paris, Amsterdam and Zimbabwe, and gained a reputation as a photojournalist of international standing. He has exhibited work all around the world, and in 1994 he was commissioned by the African National Congress to photograph the movement’s coming to power. He returned to live in his native South Africa the following year and since then has photographed and documented the Truth and Reconciliation process.
The George Hallett Collection is made up of a series of exhibition and work prints, taken in Handsworth to accompany the originalTimes Educational Supplement article. As well as showing what life in the area at that time was like, they contain a remarkable link to another Birmingham photographer. One of Hallett’s images shows two boys standing on the street; it was not until he met up with photographer Vanley Burke in 2001 that they realised the boys were in fact Burke’s brothers, standing outside his mother’s shop in Handsworth. The collection also includes an exhibition featuring photographs by Hallett and fellow photographer Benny Gool of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa; the process which attempted to begin the healing of South Africa after apartheid. This exhibition was shown in Coventry in 2004 and examples from the work can be found elsewhere on this website.
A detailed catalogue of this collection will be available soon in Birmingham City Archives, collection reference MS 2449.
You can also download a pdf version of the catalogue to the collection below:
George Hallett Catalogue - MS 2449