Interviews & Conversations Women I've Shot

Women Who Create
This is Erin Chaplin

Women Who Create is an ongoing portraiture project all shot in B&W in my studio in Woodstock, Cape Town. I love to connect with other creatives and see what motivates them and find out what is behind there work.

I met Erin for the first time when she came into my studio in June for her portrait in the series Women Who Create.

I didn’t ever think about the hands of oil painters but they must get super dirty or be super dry from all the turpentine cleaning, for this reason Erin wears latex gloves when she works and I asked her to wear them for her portrait.

Words from Erin:

My work is very personal. I work a lot with nature as a subject matter to communicate how I feel and experience life, my concerns and fears.

Flowers and fruit, specifically are interesting to me as they are temporary and hold a lot of meaning for me. The process of something living and dying and the delicate balance between the two, often overlapping.

Recently, I have been experimenting with texture and application, often resulting in more abstract work. I am trying to set less rules for myself. Trying to focus on the present and letting the outcome be secondary. This is challenging for me as I tend to focus on the past or future.

I would like to explore more abstract work while still spending time with my first love, still life. I am interested to see if I can bring them together.

A Proust-like interview:

What is your all time favorite quote?

“I’ll go if I don’t have to talk.” – Elaine

Do you have pet peeves?


Your worst trait?

Over explaining.

What is/are your greatest extravagance/s?

Travel and takeaway coffees.

Your greatest fear?

Hurting someone.

What defines your idea of happiness?

Being able to be present.

Who are your real life heroes?

People who do what is right even if it’s to their own detriment.

What do you think is overrated?

Fridge cheesecake

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“I love you” and “sorry”.

When and where are/where you happiest?

Walking while listening to music, sleeping and studio.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Deflective humour.

What do you do to help put you into your optimal creative space?

A drink and mood chosen music

What does your (physical) creative space look like?

 A mess usually.

When creating what is your biggest frustration?

Concentration and impatience.

Name a few quirks that others may not know about you?

I hate being barefoot, mainly inside. ; I talk to myself. ; I do not like the feeling of fitted clothes against my body.

When you’re in your ultimate creative space what word would you use to describe the experience?


Erin Chaplin was born in Durban, Kwazulu Natal in 1988. Chaplin is a self-taught painter. She works mainly with oil medium. She has had two solo exhibitions at Chandler House’s, Voorkamer Gallery, Outgrowth (2017) and Nice for What (2018). Chaplin participated in Everard Read Cape Town’s Cubicle Series, August (2019).

Chaplin currently lives and works in Cape Town.

Projects Women I've Shot

Commercial Commission
For Soil For Life (NGO)

I shot the 2018 campaign for NGO Soil For Life which was founded by my (amazing) mother Pat Featherstone. Although the campaign included many male gardeners I’ve just included the projects which originated with women (for the sake of this all-female blog).

Soil For Life run workshops and courses both at their headquarter gardens in Constantia and around the poorer areas in Cape Town where they train both young and old how to grow their own food.

The images shown here are a representation of gardens in Lavender Hill, Delft and Phillipi.

From their website:

We believe EVERYONE has the potential to grow nutritious food, with whatever resources they have available.

Since we started in 2002 we have helped thousands of people in resource poor communities to develop productive and sustainable home food gardens.

We have also shared valuable information about health and nutrition and provided them with the knowledge and tools to live healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives.

Growing People

We believe in growing people and endeavour to provide employment and further training opportunities. Several of our ‘graduates’ have become Soil for Life trainers and field workers.

Our Train the Trainer programme started in 2012 to extend our reach and impact. This two year course broadens the knowledge and skills of our most outstanding home gardeners, enabling them to become assistant trainers and support other gardeners in their communities.

Growing Income

We’ve seen over the years how some people become very interested in specific aspects of food gardening, such as growing seedlings, making compost or growing vegetables.

We provide mentoring, training and support as needed so they can explore these areas on a deeper level and potentially generate income. We have a flexible process to enable home gardeners to further develop their skills in areas that interest them, or where they have identified a gap in the market.

Women I've Shot

Birth: This is Shelley’s Story
The Birth of Kingston, 31 October 2018

Shelley lies calmly and quietly on the hospital bed, her hands holding a tiny white baby’s cap and a teeny nappy. She’s wheeled into the operating room and I change into blue scrubs. There are warm smiles all around. This is a scheduled C-section.

Shelley leans over, her back exposed, to get the epidural into her spine. It always makes me nervous to watch that long, thick needle entering such a vulnerable spot.

Shelley lies back and the doctors start to prepare her stomach. They are cleaning and laying down plastic sheeting over her legs and building up a curtain between Shelley’s round belly and her head, hiding the technicalities and gore of surgery. We wait a bit longer for the epidural to take full effect.

The C-section commences. Its magical that a baby is about to appear! A fine line followed by a tiny trail of blood has the first incision is made low down between the roundness of her tummy and her pubic area. The doctors are incredible, so calm, so warm, still smiling. More incisions are made, deeper and I get dizzy for a few moments. Then a gush of pink, fine liquid as they break her waters and open her womb. I see little Kingston’s head, its full of the thickest hair I’ve ever seen on a newborn, so, so very sweet.

His little head peaks out and the doctors hold back for a moment as he pushes himself out a bit, then they guide his head and his wet and vernix covered shoulders out. His hands pop out into the cool air of the operating theatre. The doctors grasp under his armpits and gently pull him out, his little legs kick into a new open space for the first time. A cry escapes as he inhales his first breath and releases it.

The doctors gloved hands clasp him gently to her body and she carefully grips him around his chest and holds him up above the dividing curtain to show Shelley her son for the first time. He opens his eyes, just the smallest squint into this new world, and reaches out and grabs his Moms pinky finger! The sweetest thing! Richard, Shelley’s husband is strong and watching mesmerized and holding his phone up to video the whole process as he meets his son for the first time too.

Kingston is carried to the warmed receiving bed on the left where a pediatrician runs his hand over his little head, over his fontanelle. The umbilical cord is clamped, and round nosed scissors are handed to Richard. He’s transfixed still with his phone watching. He takes the scissors and cuts the cord. Its emotional. Measurements are taken, hospital bracelets are attached. His little back and shoulders are covered in the finest and cutest lanugo I’ve ever seen.

Little Kingston is weighed. 3985 grams. A little frown on his face, his wet dark hair. He’s wrapped in a towel, his nappy and cap are put on by a lovely nurseand he’s on Shelley’s chest, very close to her face. She’s got the biggest smile on her face as she takes his little hand into hers. His tiny fingers are all wrinkled and pink!

Kingston rolls his head around to his mom’s face and places his mouth over hers. A kiss!

The surgery is complete, and Shelley is moved off the operating table and onto a bed and wheeled out of the room.

The towel is removed, and Shelley and Kingston are skin-to-skin. A nurse comes and helps her as Kingston wiggles around her breast looking for her nipple. There are many hands: the nurse, Shelley and the obstetrician all guide his head gently and he latches. The first feed.

Shelley gentle strokes his face while with her other fingers she pushes his nose away from her breast, so he has space to breath. More photos. The new family! The exploration of his little bod for the first time, his hair! They will need a brush Shelley says.

The bed is wheeled back into the ward where the families are eagerly and excitedly waiting for news.

I take a few sweet portraits of Kingston, his hair still wet, before I make a quiet exit and leave Shelley’s family coo-ing and emotional with their first grandchild.

Books | Mags | Articles | Ads | Film

A Magazine: Playboy (South Africa), October, 1996

This issue of Playboy is a South African edition! Playboy South Africa has lived and died twice in Africa now, once in the 1990’s and once in the 2010’s. This magazine comes from the former years.

I thought this editorial of Sam Fox was really beautifully and tastefully shot.

Below and above shows the playmate of the month, Miss October’s, centrefold in the magazine.

The above and below “Cuba Libre!” editorial in B&W is also really beautifully shot.