During the 1970s, widespread protests erupted in South Africa and the apartheid system of racial segregation began to crumble. Twenty-three year old photographer Steve Bloom took to the streets, capturing the intense mood of the time. The photographs are deeply personal, revealing the alienation of people as they went about their daily lives. Rather than portray the obvious brutal signs of apartheid, Bloom caught people in their most private moments, absorbed in their personal worlds at a pivotal time in their country’s history. Many of these pictures are understated in a way which reinforces the emotional core of life in South Africa at that time, a poignant reminder that all the peoples of South Africa were, in one way or another, prisoners of apartheid.
In 1977 Bloom travelled to London and some of the pictures were exhibited and published internationally, leading to his political exile from South Africa. Following the fall of apartheid, the pictures lay abandoned in an attic for many years until the 2012 London Festival of Photography when a selection of thirty photographs was exhibited at the Guardian Gallery.
2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the end of apartheid, when a major three-month solo exhibition was held at Canterbury’s Beany Gallery. During 2023 the exhibition was hosted by Leicester Museum and Art Gallery. Click here to see the exhibition prospectus.