South Africa: Helen Walne's 'Underwonder' World - Like Falling Into a Painting, Again and Again


Helen Walne's Instagram account is a kaleidoscopic record of the 'underwonder' - Walne's own description - of the icy waters just off the coast of Cape Town. Her photographs, taken on a 'very non-fancy' Olympus Tough TG5, with a wide-angle lens, are trippy missives from an impossibly iridescent landscape. That it exists at all seems to require the viewer to suspend disbelief, so fantastical are the scenes and critters Walne's lens finds. The story of Walne's colourful obsession and her generously shared wonderment is one rooted in loss.

"3 near Sedgefield are quickly becoming beloved."

One of the most wondrous places on the planet right now is the Instagram account of local writer and freediver Helen Walne.

What distinguishes the South African's creative work from the many other underwater photography accounts is the extension of her observational skills from the eye to that mysterious place in the brain where images become stories. Her captions are often tiny narratives about the "characters" she encounters - starfish and sea slugs and octopuses and anemones who, in Walne's imagination, bear the names of luckless baby boomers, some of whom are loud or louche, while others are shy and vulnerable.

"After 9 gins, 3...

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