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Sunday, March 31, 2019


(Durban woman reflects after her appointment at the St John eye clinic. Photo by David Prior)

St John South Africa, well-known internationally for first-aid training and related services, is hosting a touring photographic exhibition to promote the work conducted in the field of eye care and the impact this work has had on the lives of everyday South Africans.

The St John Vision 20/20 Exhibition comes to the Durban Art Gallery, opening on April 4, 2019, before touring to Simons Town, Stellenbosch and Johannesburg throughout 2019.

Eighty percent of all blindness is preventable or at least treatable. Healthy eyesight determines our quality of life and everyday experiences whether it’s a child learning to read, a pedestrian crossing the road or a breadwinner working to put a meal on the table for their family.

Sight is a very personal and intimate experience for each individual and this is at the heart of the exhibition. The images showcase the individuals who benefit from the eye care services that St John offers. The exhibition breathes life into its motto: Pro Fide – “Pro Utilitate Hominum” which means For the Faith and in the service of humanity.

The exhibition features 32 photographs taken by Cape Town photographer David Prior with accompanying explanatory narratives, curated jointly by St John’s Chris Martin as exhibition Project Manager, Robyn Keet as Creative Director, Dr Paul Bayliss and Thabo Seshoka from ABSA Art Gallery and Sarah McGee from M Studio Community.

Everyone selected to be featured in the exhibition has a personal story to tell. We meet among others, a dressmaker, a truck driver, a construction worker and a community leader - people who shape our lives and our communities, and all of whom are genuinely patients and clients of St John. These are the people that St John South Africa serves.

Included in the exhibition are the stories of the unsung heroes within St John - dedicated individuals who give their time as optometrists, receptionists, and bookkeepers. Men and women working towards a better vision, a grander vision, a 20/20 Vision.

The exhibition has very particular goals in mind: its aim is to showcase how individuals’ lives are changed when they have the gift of healthy eyesight and to raise awareness about the eye care work of St John in local communities as well as to highlight the importance of accessible, affordable, high-quality eye care.

St John was established in Grahamstown in 1883 and operates 12 Eye Care Clinics across South Africa, providing professional eye testing and the dispensing of budget spectacles to members of the community who are unable to afford commercial rates. In addition, St John Eye Care Clinics diagnose cases where patients require corrective surgery, such as cataracts, and refer them to local eye hospitals for treatment. This screening process enables the hospitals to concentrate on their primary function of surgery. Optometrists who practice at St John Eye Care Clinics are also members of the South African Optometric Association.

In Durban, there will be various companion events to accompany the exhibition which will be open to the public. Contact Thulani Makhaye at DAG ( or email Chris Martin ( for further details.

There is an exhibition walkabout on April 6 at 10h00 at the Durban Art Gallery. Also, on that Saturday morning there will be free eye screenings held in the gallery. There are also vouchers which will allow the bearer to go St John Eye Care Clinic for a free comprehensive eye test which will be given to visitors who have attended the exhibition and have had a free screening.

The ST JOHN VISION 20/20 EXHIBITION runs from April 4 to 30, 2019, in the Durban Art Gallery (DAG) which is situated on the second floor of the Durban City Hall building, enter opposite the Playhouse. It is open seven days a week: Monday to Saturday: 08h30 to 16h00; Sunday and Public Holidays: 11h00 to 15h45.

Entry is free and all are welcome! For more info, contact the Gallery on 031 311 2264 / 9 or (weekdays).

St John South Africa is grateful for the support of Rapid Studio- SA’s leading photobook company; the Art Times, PicFlick and the Durban Art Gallery

For more info visit