Koppie | Mopokai Home of the Martial Eagles – Collectors Framed Print: Limited Edition #03



About this piece

2005 – Phalaborwa, South Africa

Part of a Vintage Film Collection “Shadows Over Stones”

The first time I saw the Phalaborwa landscape was from the heavens. As the plane cut through the thick cotton ball clouds, I saw below, a flat never-ending plain, dotted with rock eruptions. Through the clouds the sunlight streaked, sprinkling its dapple-light onto mineral rich encrusted koppies. All that glitters is not gold but platinum, palladium, silver, copper and other equally precious metals.

There were hundred of koppies – stone structures – boulders balancing precariously on each other like ballet dancers frozen in a moment of time. Others neatly piled, creating edifices in all shapes and sizes. Two koppies caught my eye, probably because of their size, Mopokai and Mapotweng. Like twins, they stood side by side, some five kilometers from Phalaborwa, separated by the Gravelotte road. Later with my feet planted firmly on the ground, I went in search of them and discovered an array of Neanderthal stone forms – animal-shaped rocky outcrops – lions, elephants, and a snail deep-rooted into the landscape gazing towards the Northern Kruger. This type of natures’ architecture continues up to Mapungubwe and onto the Matopos koppies in the Matoba Hills near Bulawayo. One, Malindidzimu, Cecil John Rhodes chose as his final resting place.

Sometimes when the heat of the day gets unbearable, the bush releases a smell not too dissimilar to leather, over-ripe apricots and dried earth. On one particular afternoon, it was that kind of day as I stood at the bottom of an embankment looking up at Mopokai. This majestic koppie was the residence of the baPhalaborwa tribe, specifically the families of Monyela, Pilusa, both headman of the tribe and Malatji, the head chief. Shaped like a knobby round breast, it rose up to a pinnacle point, supported by sheer-faced granite rocks. I’d made several visits to photograph Mopokai, all, sadly ended in disappointment. Resolutely I continued going back.

On the particular day I chose to go back, it was unbearably hot. The sun was blazing down, drawing up the cicadas from ten meters below to come up and play. But there was hope – there was cloud build-up – little puffballs of Cumulus clouds. For the next few hours, while I waited for Nimbus to arrive, I was plagued by giant grasshoppers, whose thorny legs ripped into my tender city skin. The angrier I got, the more they multiplied. Like frenzied mutant birds, they clambered all over me jabbing. Some even found comfort in the curve of my Panama hat. Then the temperature dropped as the Nimbus started to glide in. This unsettled them – then they were gone. I waited.

On top of the embankment stood a good-looking Marula tree, wind-shaped like a cobblers shoe-anvil. The sweet smell of ripe Marulas and the Potato shrub scented the air, peppering the African bush. The grass was tall and creepy-crawlies were everywhere – disorder prevailed in the insect world. As I assembled my equipment, a group of guinea fowl took to the air; bursting out of the Marula tree, just below the watchful eyes of a pair of Martial eagles circling above Mopokai. They flew east, away from the darkening glow of the sun, disappearing into the shadows of Nimbus. I waited for several hours before Nimbus showed her compassion. When she did, her thick scent of sandalwood descended, permeating the dense bush around me. She stayed there for almost two hours. Then the sun arrived, scattering her scent into the winds that followed him.

This Vintage Film Collection “Shadows Over Stones”, originally exhibited at Nedbank, Waterfront, Cape Town in 2012 and is now available as special limited edition print run.

The authentic effect of photographing on film is the natural film grain that is produced in its reproductions, this was intended by the photographer Mike Rossi as a genuine representation of capturing images with his Hasselblad XPan film camera.

Also available as a Limited Print only Edition.


Collectors Print with Custom Frame: Limited Edition #03

Black & White printed on Ilford Baryta paper: 315 g/m² silk finish with a 1 cm white boarder around image. Complete with a Hamburgs 2 cm x 3 cm Black Stained Oak Solid Wood Frame with a 5 cm White Passe-Partout mount. Mirogard museum high quality glass. Authentication Label on back of frame with printed signature of Photographer. Authentication Certificate included.

Overall Frame Size – 69.7 cm x 35.7 cm (54 cm x 20 cm image size).

Total number of Framed Prints available in this Limited Edition print run – 10 off.

This is a “Bespoke” order.

Go to “Choose an Options” to select a Numbered Print from this Edition.

Please refer to the Product Guide for more information about Ilford Baryta black & white prints and Solid Wood Frames. Other frame types, finishes, colours and mounting methods are available.  Please contact us with your bespoke requirements and we would be happy to assist in finding the right solution for you.

error: Content is protected !!