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.

Books | Mags | Articles | Ads | Film On other Photographers

A Book: Chambre Close
by Bettina Rheims & Serge Bramly

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This beautiful book was gifted to me by my partner. He knows me well.

Chambre-Close-by-Bettina-Rheims-&-Serge-Bramly--002- The inside-cover dust jacket reads and explains the contents of the book:

Bettina Rheims / Serge Bramly
Chambre Close
A Fiction
152 pages, 85 color plates

It was snowing on Paris when a well-dressed, gaunt old gentleman with pale skin entered a photography studio in the sixth arrondissement…

Monsieur X., the said gentleman, hands the manager his legacy that is to remain anonymous for all times- erotic nude photographs of women taken in hotel rooms, unequivocal evidence of the secret double life he leads behind closed doors. Monsieur X. is a perfectly discrete voyeur, an old school seducer, an amateur in the original sense. Not only does he have a good education and money, but a professional photographer’s equipment- and an obsessive curiosity for the female body.

Chambre-Close-by-Bettina-Rheims-&-Serge-Bramly--003- Chambre-Close-by-Bettina-Rheims-&-Serge-Bramly--004-

 The artistic collaboration of photographer Bettina Rheims and author and art critic Serge Bramly began in 1991 with Chambre Close and continues until today. Every one of their joint projects caused a stir and provoked heated debates, like I.N.R.I (1997/98). This edition of Chambre Close, in which we are publishing the complete series of photographs for the first time, is particularly interesting because of the contrast between text and pictures. Juxtaposed to the cultivated literary tone of Monsieur X.’s fictitious “avowal” are photographs which speak a much clearer language. Bettina Rheims, who produced her first photo series in color with Chambre Close, is fluent in this language, telling stories of female eroticism and female exhibitionism unlike anyone else.



Apart from my love of strongly composed square images, the tone of Rheims’s work is kind of decadent in its color saturation and in the (effortless) tension/ harmony play in her photographs.



She works with a mix of body language and props to weave the compositional tone of her images. In both the below and above images (if not in them all) one can really see how she works with space, form and sexuality.



From the first pages of the book:

It could go either way. In real life our dreams turn out to be two-sided and contradictory. While one part of us aspires to tranquility, another thirsts for torment. There are two voices speaking at the same time, and the fainter one has just as much of a hold. When one has drowned out the other, and its dominance seems assured, the other is cunningly biding its time, ready to spit venom.


 In my case, it all began with a moment of desperation, midway through my life, when I was least expecting it. I had worked so hard and well to eliminate friction in the belief that I was acting for the common good, for the benefit of my friends, my family and myself- and, insofar to the best of my ability, for the cause of social progress- and that my days would follow a perfectly smooth course to what was already looking like happiness.


Such a belief made it easy to bear the bumps still strewn across my path, the uncertainties that occasionally snagged my comfort. I considered them ephemeral. I waited. For me, the present was like a transit lounge. Soon, a hostess would be announcing the flight that was going to whisk me to the islands of felicity, as the fulfillment of a moderate and hard-working life. I was staking the best part of my days on a winning tomorrow. Even if the future was slow in coming, the word dissatisfaction never entered my vocabulary.
But then the other voice whispered in my ear.




The book reads like a memoir of fictitious author Monsieur X., who invites and pays women to undress for him in hotel rooms. Bettina’s accompanying images illustrate his supposed experiences and resulting photoshoots.

The models cast for the project are so varied, not just for body type but also for age and race, this makes them even more believably part of his storyline.

There are elements of her work which remind me of Helmut Newton’s approach to photographing women. I think its in the strength their models exude and the way they both obtain alluring body language and poses.