Image for Together: changing times captured poolside in Cape Town

Together: changing times captured poolside in Cape Town

A poignant portrait by Michelle Sank is among the Sony World Photography awards open competition winners

A poignant portrait by Michelle Sank is among the Sony World Photography awards open competition winners

With confidence emanating from their poolside poses, Zenande, Sinawe, Zinathi and Buhle enjoy the view at Sea Point Pavilion in Cape Town.

Their portrait – captured by Cape Town native Michelle Sank and among the just-announced 10 category winners in the Sony World Photography awards open competition – helps to capture change in South Africa since apartheid ended in the 1990s. Previously a whites-only space, Sea Point is now one of the best spots to soak up the city’s multiculturalism, complete with children’s playgrounds, an outdoor gym and public art.

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It is part of Sank’s ongoing series Ballade, which she described as “a poetic homage” to her birthplace. “My strongest memories are of Sea Point Promenade and the Pavilion swimming pool, although due to apartheid it was only for the privileged white population,” said Sank.

I was again drawn to these spaces where little seems to have changed in terms of structure and recreation, but they now celebrate cultural and social diversity

There remains huge racial inequality in the country, not to mention ongoing segregation. In Sea Point alone, property prices remain among the obstacles standing in the way of a true dismantling of inequity that continues in Cape Town and the country as a whole.

Nevertheless, Sank points out that The Promenade brings together cyclists, dog-walkers, joggers, skaters, beggars, amblers, lovers, salsa dancers and homeless people. “For many, this area is their sanctum, the public space they don’t have in private,” she said. It’s also a microcosm of possibility – and hope.

Photography by Michelle Sank

Copyright Michelle Sank. Michelle Sank is a winner in the Sony World Photography Awards 2024. An exhibition will take place at Somerset House, London, from 19 April to 6 May 

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