It was a somewhat heartbreaking discovery that led Frank Pople to seeing first-hand the dedication of the volunteers at the Animal Anti-Cruelty League Cape Town (AACL-CT) – and ultimately putting together a body of photographs in honour of their work.
Frank, a Bellville resident who works as a photographer at Roeland Street’s Western Cape Archives and Records Services, says: “I went for jog on Boxing Day last year and came across a garbage bag.
“In it was a puppy, who looked really hurt. I took it in to the AACL and when I got there, I saw all the work they do. I went back there about a month later to do a documentary project – just for myself, really.”
A few months later and the completed body of work – made up of portraits of the volunteers in action – will be exhibited at 6 Spin Street as part of the organisation’s first fundraising exhibition, titled Animal Heroes.
As to why he chose to focus on the people who make up the organisation and not the animals they care for, Frank says: “It’s kind of a double-edge sword, because it is people who hurt and neglect these animals, but it is also people who take care of them. So, I really wanted to focus on these selfless people.
“Besides,” he adds, “not all people can or want to relate to animals, but everyone can relate to other people.
“So that was my link – my bridge – to getting the message across.”
Astute as he may have been in choosing this route, it was one which was, he concedes, more demanding.
“With portraiture, you can’t afford to be cheap about it. You have to really reflect who these people are and the joy they have working there. So, I had to go back a few times to get to know them and also for them to get to know me.”
Having approached his project in this way is made all the more admirable in that he, like those at AACL, worked on a completely voluntary basis.
So, why do it? “Well,” he says, “I have really strong feelings around animal welfare. Also, I hope this exhibition would get people to adopt more of these animals, because they can’t be housed there forever. And if not that, then to at least make donations towards the organisation.
“They are always in need of donations – especially because the people who volunteer there are truly selfless.”
As to what happened to the puppy he found in the garbage bag, he says: “I ended up taking her in,” he says, laughingly adding: “I named her Jet. She’s big and healthy now… and very spirited.”
lThe exhibition, Animal Heroes, will open on Friday March 4, at 7pm, at 6 Spin Street. Entry is R50, which will go towards AACL-CT.
Cocktails and canapés will be served and raffle tickets will be sold on the night, with the opportunity to win prizes. For more information, follow the AACL-CT Facebook page.