“Ruthy Goes to Church” is the portrayal of Ruth Jones, second-in-command of the Manenberg Church Brigade in Cape Town, South Africa. When she was 14 years old, Ruthy was raped by a man who worked at her local swimming pool. Pregnant and unable to finish her schooling, Ruthy returned to the Anglican Church in Manenberg, the place where she was baptized and the one con- stant in her turbulent life. Here she feels safe, that her life has more meaning, and that she is able to help the new genera- tion of Manenberg children cope with the demands of this often violent society. Manenberg is famous for its drug fueled gang violence. Yet in the middle of all this, there is a community that takes care of its children, keeping them off the streets by giving them a uniform, an instrument and a strong bond. It’s thanks to women like Ruthy that South African townships have not completely imploded and that the people of Manenberg can still be proud of where they live and of who they are. ”Ruthy Goes to Church” is the 2nd instalment of Julia Gunther’s ongoing project ‘Proud Women of Africa’: a photographic record of women who live or work in Africa.
Julia Gunther was born in Berlin, Germany, and studied Film & Video at the University of the Arts in London, UK. After 7 years of working on feature films, commercials and music videos in Berlin, London, Amsterdam and Cape Town, she decided to shift gears and concentrate solely on photography. Julia’s work is primarily documentary based and her projects are usually made up of a mixture of portraits and investigative images. Julia likes to explore the lives of her subjects, giving her audience a context in which to view her portraits. Her work has been featured in, amongst others, The Creative Review Photography Annual 2014, Volkskrant Magazine, Dazed & Confused Magazine, Zoom Magazine, Vision Magazine, Feature Shoot, ToneLit Magazine, The Photographer’s Forum Magazine, Rosewood Magazine and Het Parool. Her work has been awarded at New York Photo Festival presenting Photoworld 2014, the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2013, GUP New Dutch Photography Talent 2013, the Professional Women Photographers Awards 2012 and the New York Photo Awards 2012. She has also been nominated as a 2014 Critical Mass Finalist, twice at the Kuala Lumpur International Photo Award 2012 & 2013 and at various other photo award competitions. Julia is currently based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.