Title: Hidden Karoo
Author: Patricia Kramer
Photographer: Alain Proust
Date: March 2021
The Karoo is big-sky country; a land of vast plains punctuated by flat-topped mountains, conical hills and secluded valleys, a land of scrubby bushes and hardy trees, where pioneers carved roads out of rock to set down roots in an unforgiving environment.
Here dreams are born, legends are made, and outcasts find sanctuary. It is also an ancient place, whose story is revealed through geology, fossils and artefacts, and whose human lineage predates any written history. Today, the people who inhabit it must manifest the same fortitude that sustained those who left their footprints in the primieval mud.
In Hidden Karoo you will find all this, and more. Through a series of superb photo-essays, this majestic place is revealed as a land where conservation and neglect are seldom far apart, where one town boasts splendidly restored buildings, while along a dusty road lie forgotten villages waiting for... something. Could it be a renewal, or a slow death? There’s nothing novel about the movement of people from country to city, and the Karoo mimics other parts of the world where rural areas become derelict as they are depopulated.
Hidden Karoo presents a snapshot of the region, offering a glimpse into towns and villages, farms and churches, public buildings and private homes, all against a backdrop of awe-inspiring landscapes. Through words and pictures, it prompts us to consider what was, what is and, perhaps, what might be. One constant about the Karoo is change. A book can do no more than capture a moment in time or depict fragments of a place, but in doing so, it bears witness to the past and offers the hope that there may yet be a future for this unparalleled part of our country.