All images © Tina Hillier
Every once in a while, there is a major news event that stops the whole world in its tracks with its impact. The passing of Nelson Mandela on 5 December 2013, aged 95, arrested the attention of every nation, with the images of the great man himself and the people he inspired being viewed and circulated globally. When work by Tina Hillier came in to the 1000 Words submissions inbox, it was interesting to see this photographer’s singular way of depicting the mass of people and lives South Africa’s 'Father of the Nation' had touched.
The project, entitled Mandela - The Last Goodbye, documents the funeral and memorial service but from an usual perspective. Hillier opts to focus on the feet of the hoards of visitors, all of whom are making their journey and waiting in line to pay their respects. The images are a cycle, with no clear beginning, middle or end, but a procession of struggle and freedom. Hillier’s statement on the work adds further insight to the pilgrimage made by so many people :
“Over three days, between Mandela’s memorial service and his funeral in Qunu, an estimated 100,000 people visited the Union Buildings in Pretoria to see his body lying in State. Many more people queued for hours but were turned away on the afternoon of the last day, 13 December, 2013. Some 2000 mourners passed his body each hour. The images in this series document the long lines of people waiting. Queues on that scale had not been seen since Mandela was voted in as President on election day in 1994. He was the first democratically elected President South Africa had ever seen. Almost twenty years on, after his death, South Africans came out in their thousands to pay their last respects to the man who set them free.”
Tina Hillier studied Photography at The Arts Institute at Bournemouth. She now lives in London, working on editorial, commercial and personal projects. She exhibits regularly in group shows and has twice been selected for The National Portrait Gallery, Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize Exhibition in 2010 and 2011. Her work has been included in many magazines and publications including the Saturday Telegraph Magazine, Monocle, Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian and Dazed & Confused.