Mrs SA’s photo exhibition has the Midas touch
Nicole Capper has launched an art initiative showcasing the resilience of the human spirit
Mrs South Africa 2018 Nicole Capper launched an emotive project last week showcasing the resilience of the human spirit through her unique portrait photography.
Called Uprising, the campaign profiles eight ordinary South Africans, each with a golden thread that binds them.
They are people who have chosen life in spite of great hardship and personal pain. They have chosen joy and consciously decided to respond to their circumstances in a way that transforms them and allows them to experience life in a new way.
“Their hardship has not engulfed them nor suffocated their will to overcome their challenge. Instead, they choose day after day, to show up, change their story and write their own endings,” she says.
According to Capper, the focus of the project is not fixed on the pain, though it is woven into the fabric of each story. “The focus is on hope and the will to live and thrive in spite of pain; like the phoenix rising from the ashes – it’s a celebration of the triumph of the human spirit.”
The campaign images have been captured by award-winning photographer Yolandi Jacobsz. Dramatic black and gold portraits were shot in a creative way that tells the story of the rebirth each person has gone through.
“Shades of dark and light. Pain and rapture,” says Capper. The images were unveiled at an event at The Melrose Gallery on Wednesday last week.
Explaining the rationale behind the use of the colour gold for the campaign – either in sprayed props, makeup or costumes – Capper says: “It’s because a precious metal like gold first goes through fire before it’s purified and refined, just as we do when we face trials and challenges that change us.”
No stranger to challenge, Capper’s daughter Tatum was diagnosed with a life-limiting rare disease, cystic fibrosis, at six weeks old. At first she wanted to hide away from the world, but she believed she had a choice. She could allow the disease to steal her family’s purpose and use it as an excuse for complacency, or she could consciously go after her dreams despite the challenges and show her children that nothing can hold them back from achieving their goals. So she decided to fight back, and it was this diagnosis that gave her a sense of purpose and led her to enter the Mrs SA pageant.
But despite the glitter, the fortune and sparkle of the title, it was not to be an easy journey for Capper.
Shortly after she was crowned, her 11-year marriage fell apart. Commenting on this painful experience, Capper says with three people in her marriage things were a bit crowded. “Of course having just been crowned Mrs South Africa compromised and complicated my position. Fortunately, the Mrs South Africa organisation was very supportive and gave me the freedom to represent the brand as one that stands for female empowerment and community upliftment.”
Pragmatic in her approach, Capper adds life isn’t a Disney movie and you have to decide how you respond. “There’s no point in denying our stories because when you do they define you. It’s better to own them and take your power back. The truth changes everything.
“I used to live in a grey world of perceived perfection. Now I know the best bits of life are those that grow and change you. Hardship is an opportunity to grow. My journey made me choose being present over perfection because life is about so much more than notching up Instagram likes,” says Capper. “Another defining moment in my life was when I came close to death on my Everest Base Camp climb, and this experience profoundly changed my world view and further shaped me into who I am today.”
Uprising is the first project to launch under Capper’s #RareHeights initiative. The movement aims to push people to do more, take on more, be more and to live big. She hopes to inspire people to reach their full potential.
In 2018 she tackled both Everest Base Camp and Kilimanjaro and summited local and international peaks.
Capper has arranged a silent auction to sell the campaign portraits for charity. The beneficiaries associated with the project include Choc, Rare Diseases, Love Justice, Children of Fire and NPO – A beautiful Mind.
Explaining why eight people were selected for the project, Capper said it’s because as a number it represents new beginnings – power and the strength to accomplish your dreams. “And that’s what this project is all about, inspiring people to conquer their demons – to rise again and to be the author of their own story.”
“The eight people who share their stories with the world are to be commended for their willingness to be vulnerable – so that others may draw strength from the painful chapters in their lives – which now are on display for all to see,” she says.
Alessandro Khojane, Angela Yeung, Elsa Bernon, Kalpesh Dave, Kyle Clark, Nandi Koster, Nicole Capper and Richard Laskey were the people involved in the project.
“I have come to realise when we are our most vulnerable that’s when we are our strongest. I am grateful I have had the Mrs South Africa platform to make a difference. I am an ordinary woman trying to do something extraordinary in my community, and hope to inspire South Africans to step out and do the same,” says Capper. “Let's go to #RareHeights.”