Ella Buter Owner of Superella
There’s DNA in the photo album that Ella Buter has on her lap. It’s her parents’ wedding album. It’s singed at the edges and the photos’ protective plastic sheets have cracked and disintegrated. “It’s about the only thing that they managed to grab from our house in Welkom when it burnt down the year I was in matric,” says Ella.
Those black-and-white images of Jan and Jane Buter are a story from before she was. Her parents are captured in their 20s, young, united, celebrated. The photos hold a kind of genetic encryption, clues to who Ella is today.
“I believe that even your creativity comes from your DNA,” says Ella as she points out the photos where Afrikaans women, as part of the wedding party, are dressed in traditional costumes and bonnets for volkspele (folk dances) — the cultural dances and games she had to learn as a child, as heritage with no negotiation.
“I will never place these photos into a new album. Like this it reminds me of what we lost in the fire: everything,” she says. It’s also exactly how she received it when her parents died shortly after each other in the 2000s.
“I think my mother died from heartache without my father,” she says, closing the padded album cover. It holds their love story, captured in the moment silver halides on photographic film met light.
‘THE ALBUM REMINDS ME OF WHAT WE LOST IN THE FIRE: EVERYTHING’ Ella Buter