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Jessica Hilltout July 26, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ghana.
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Tawfig, Kusawku, Ghana, 2008

Jessica Hilltout (b. 1977, Belgium) has been traveling ever since her parents exposed her to the world and this sparked her fascination with images. As a young woman, she attended Art College in Blackpool, England and later worked briefly (and unhappily) in commercial photography. In 2002 she traveled through Central Asia and Africa photographing the seemingly unimportant, the apparently hidden and finding beauty in both. Jessica’s work is proof positive that beauty can be found anywhere, especially in those unique imperfections that mark our individuality.

About the Photograph:

This is one of my favorite images. This young footballer is called Tawfig. I spent six days in his village. The main activity here is farming. Everyday around 4pm the boys gather on the field and play football after farming. Football is a way of getting ridding of stress after a long day in the fields. Football is precious, its a necessity. The heat of the day is disappearing, the field is surrounded by spectators, the boys play with an amazing energy. No rules just fun and fair play. You hear giggling, laughter, oooooing aaaahhhing, the chickens and the goats wandering or grazing off the edge of the field, a young girl sells nuts… Then the light falls and within minutes the field is empty, everyone goes home, relaxed, exhausted, smiling, ready to eat, sleep and start a new day. In this image, I made group shot of Tawfig’s team. A magical moment came and went. I saw Tawfig through my lens, eyes closed, hand to heart… a spontaneous gesture. For me this image breathes belief, passion, love, happiness and that special pulsating energy which is unique to the African continent.”

“I was very keen on taking a different look at the meaning of football in Africa. There was no real planning for the nine month trip. I flew to Cape Town with a Hasselblad, an 80 mm lens, 300 rolls of film, a digital camera, my log book, a mini printer and a stock of new footballs. 15,000 km later I returned the car to my Dad. Then I set off to Accra, Ghana, where I got a Nissan Vanette. I build a bed for the inside. I had four boxes; one for footballs, one for food and the other two for clothes and film. This mobile home took me 5,000 km across six countries in West Africa. Throughout the trip I had exchanged manufactured footballs for homemade ones. Back in South Africa, I found myself with thirty-five such balls and realized the extent to which they represented the essence of my trip and the heart of the project. I am looking to exchange the 35 balls I collected for equipment for all the players that made this project come to life… so that they can keep on playing the game they love.”

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