Coming Home

Coming Home: poems from the Grahamstown diaspora is Harry Owen’s new anthology that’s currently in production with Amitabh Mitra’s Poets Printery. Some time back Harry and I sat down with some of my thoughts for the cover because it can be quite a challenge to design something that shows what the book is about. Do you go with one wrap around picture or two different ones? Where will the words go on front and back? Which images do you chose and what do they show?

We eventually settled on these two images because they strikingly encapsulate Grahamstown’s history and landscape. The front cover was taken under the Drostdy Archway looking along High Street with the cathedral spire on the skyline. The rising full moon is right behind the ornamental light that hangs from the centre of the Arch. The back cover is taken from the opposite side of town on a typically misty, drizzly Eastern Cape day. It’s looking down York Street in Fingo Village across the valley that divides the town towards Sunnyside and on up to the 1820 Settlers Monument.

From a design viewpoint these two images just give enough room to add the text Harry wanted. On the top and bottom of the front cover there were nice areas for some bold white text. On the back I had to go with black text in a grey semi-transparent box that wrapped around the Monument building.

We are looking forward to seeing it launched at National Arts Festival Makhanda.

#NAF19: keep your eyes open for the announcement!


Roddy is a self taught photographer whose first camera, a Zeiss Ikon, was bought in 1974 from a second hand dealer in Glasgow. Through the forty years since then, he's taken landscape photographs with Pentax, Olympus and FujiFilm systems for his teaching and research as a geography academic at Kenyatta and Rhodes Universities. He has always been inspired by great nature and landscape photographers such as Nick Brandt, Beth Moon, Obie Oberholzer and Hans Strand. Since taking early retirement he has been able to pursue his passion for photography, published a photobook ’Symmetry in Nature and held three solo exhibitions at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa. 

His landscape photography is about light: often at low angles, of forests, mist and clouds, the night sky and lightning. He prints on different media depending on the affects he wants to produce: brushed aluminium for reflecting angled light; Hahnemühle German Etching paper for soft diffusion; Ilford Metallic Gloss for vibrant night pictures.

His conceptual photography uses mirroring and merging of layers to explore patterns, motifs and the feminine in nature.