Hard Rain Exhibition, Kirstenbosch GardensI went, recently, to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to see a set of photographs on display there that have been causing a bit of a stir…

They’re part of the Hard Rain exhibition, an outdoor photography exhibit with a strong message: we’re messing up our planet (big-time), and we need to do something about it.

Global warming, climate change, human rights abuses – all represented in large, in-your-face photographic form, alongside the chilling words of Bob Dylan’s prophetic song: A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.

The images are disturbing, and no one except those with the very thickest of skins (or most eco-friendly of habits) could come away from the exhibit feeling entirely clear of conscience. Somehow, I think, the beautiful setting has a way of making the images even poignant than they might be elsewhere…

Children swimming amongst unbelievably polluted waters, fishing for pieces of plastic they can recycle; a dead cow, dangling from one leg, in a pool of blood (a victim of BSE), whilst two men nonchalantly smoke cigarettes nearby; a Bushman child in Namibia, watching over his dying horse, unable to provide the water it needs to survive (global warming) – the stories these photographs tell are harrowing.

Hard Rain Exhibition, Kirstenbosch GardensAnd so they should be. And we should be disturbed. These problems are all man-made, ultimately, and every single one of us plays a part in the environmental damage done to the earth every single day.

We waste. We plunder. We destroy. And unless we do something about the way we treat our planet, those images will become our own reality (and not something we can laugh off because it’s happening somewhere else).

Some might say that the pictures are too upsetting for children, and certainly there are some that would (and do) make kids (and the rest of us) uncomfortable.  But I think they should see them – preferably with someone who’s prepared to explain what they’re all about (would you be able to do so?).

They’re the next in line, after all, and there’s no hiding from the effects our actions will have on them…

Right, rant over. Enough said. Go, see it. It will rattle your cage.

The Hard Rain Exhibition is on at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden (Newlands) until April 2008. You’ll find the exhibit outdoors, near the main restaurant (ie at the bottom of the gardens). There’s no entrance fee, other than the one you pay for general entry to the gardens.

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