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Wednesday, May 19, 2021


(Above: Tatham Art Gallery’s Reena Bhoodram, St John Pietermaritzburg Optometrist, Sanchia Jogessar and Tatham Art Gallery’s Pinky Nkabinde with two of the works on exhibition. Photo by Illa Thompson)

Eye care is in the spotlight at the Tatham Art Gallery in May

St John South Africa, well-known internationally for first-aid training and related services, is hosting a 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, which is running at the Tatham Art Gallery, Lorna Ferguson Room, in Pietermaritzburg until May 30, 2021.

The exhibition features 32 photographs taken by Cape Town photographer David Prior with accompanying explanatory text narratives. It is staged with the support of Tatham Art Gallery. 

“You only have one pair of eyes, so you need to look after them!” says Sanchia Jogessar, optometrist at St John Eye Care Clinic at Pietermaritzburg’s Selgro Centre on the Corner of Church and Boshoff Streets.

“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.

“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 - all of whom are genuinely eye patients and clients of St John. Included in the exhibition are the stories of the unsung heroes within St John - optometrists, receptionists, caretakers and administrators.”

(Left: Fatima Hoosen – Director, St John Eye Care, checks the eyes of theatre creative, Clare Mortimer from Pietermaritzburg. Photo by Illa Thompson)

The exhibition has very particular goals in mind: to showcase how individuals’ lives are changed when they have the gift of healthy eyesight, to raise awareness about the eye care work of St John in local communities, and 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.

There will be various companion events to accompany the exhibition which will be open to the public. There will be free vision screenings for visitors all day on Sat 22, Sun 23, Sat 29, Sun 30 May (on a first-come first-served basis).

The exhibition originally toured to galleries throughout 2019, with St John’s Chris Martin as exhibition Project Manager, and Robyn Keet as Creative Director.

The Tatham Art Gallery is situated opposite the Town Hall in Chief Albert Luthuli Street, Pietermaritzburg. It is open from Tuesdays to Friday from 10h00 to 16h00, weekends 10h00 until 14h00. Café Tatham is open for refreshments. Safe parking with a car guard available. More information on 033 392 2801 or visit Entry is free and all are welcome!