Change the world


Created in 2019, the 25th anniversary of President Nelson Mandela's inaugural address, the Attached to the Soil project began with a series of 50 photographic portrait tableaus by the American photographer and Michigan State University Professor of Art, Peter Glendinning.

Bachelor of Visual Arts Photography student Chadi Tamolo, Kayla Geswint, Lene Swanepoel, Caitlin Mathers, who collaborated with Peter Glendinning in 2019 and who are seeing the results for the first time (due to the lockdown delaying the arrival of the show). Photo by Azola Fumba

Prof Glendinning created these during his service as a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa. Each was the result of collaborations between him and two others, including Mandela Uni Photography students. First, a young person whose soil related metaphor conveyed their sense of some aspect of the nation that they will inherit from past generations. Also, a portrait subject who shared stories from their lives related to the metaphor.

Left: Winston Wesley Geswint with Prof Peter Glendinning. Photo by Azola Fumba and right:  Wessel Jordaan, beachfront busker with Prof Peter Glendinning

The Department of Visual Arts also invites you to attend an Artist Walkabout with Peter Glendinning for his exhibition "Attached To The Soil" on Saturday 27 August 2022 at 11h00 at Mandela Uni’s Bird Street Gallery at 20 Bird Street, Central.As South Africa moves into the next 25 years of its development, the collaborators hope that the project can serve as a means of reflection on its youths' aspirations for the nation.

The 50 portraits and their accompanying stories were published in an exhibit catalog (see the lovely cover above!) to accompany the exhibits at six South African university art galleries, where it is available for purchase to support ongoing programmes.

Dr Adam Habib, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand and Director of the the School of Oriental and African Srtudies, Univeristy of London since 1 January 2021 said: "Peter Glendinning’s South African collaborators have bared their souls and thus provided hope in the midst of social gloom. We need more of such stories that tell of the aspirations of the people of our world, not mediated and articulated through the voice of political actors, but rather amplified directly in their own voices.

“It is only on this foundation of diversity, ambition, social justice and hope that we can develop a more cohesive human community, without which we cannot heal the divides of our collective past and build a more inclusive world."

The exhibition is still open to view from 9:00 to 16:00 weekdays till 9 September.

More information:;

Contact information
Mr Glenn Meyer
Senior Lecturer / Course Coordinator For Photography Programme
Tel: 27 41 5043141