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b. 1949, Swakopmund, Namibia.
Lives and works in Swakopmund, Namibia.


Margaret Courtney-Clarke was born in 1949 in Swakopmund, Namibia, where she currently lives and works. She received a Diplomas in Graphic Design and Photography at the University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, South Africa in 1971 and then enrolled at Scuola Libera di Roma in Rome, Italy in 1974, to study drawing and anatomy. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Photojournalism at New York University (NYU) in New York in 1978. Courtney-Clarke has spent more than four decades working as a photographer between Italy, the USA and across the African continent. She has freelanced for magazines such as Life, Geo, Stern, Attenzione, Newsweek and Architectural Digest. Between 1986 and 1990, Courtney-Clark produced her acclaimed trilogy, Ndebele (1986), African Canvas (1990) and Imazighen (1996), which has been exhibited in over two hundred Museums across the USA, Africa, Europe and Japan. The trilogy will shortly be republished by Steidl as a collector’s edition, with new material from Courtney-Clarke’s travel notebooks.

Courtney-Clark is the author of 8 books which have been received with critical acclaim. Cry Sadness into the Coming Rain, which was accompanied by a retrospective exhibition at SMAC Gallery in Stellenbosch, South Africa, was published in 2018, with foreword by David Goldblatt and essay by Sean O’Toole. The work received a number ofnominations, including a longlisting for the 2018 Kraszna-Krausz Book Award in London, UK and a shortlisting for the Deutscher Fotobuchpreis award in Stuttgart, Germany. Courtney-Clark received the Photo District News (PDN) Award in 2018 for her portfolio, A Lifelong Obsession with Finding Shelter in New York City, USA. She was also nominated for the 2015 Henri Cartier-Bresson (HBC) Award for her series On Borrowed Time in Paris, France. In 2019, Courtney-Clarke was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet and the Contemporary African Photography Prize (CAP), which she was nominated for again in 2020. Her book When Tears Don’t Matter, with a foreword by Virginia MacKenny and an accompanying essay by Rob J. Gordon, was published by Steidl in the Spring of 2021.

In 2021, Courtney-Clarke presented a solo exhibition at !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre in Yzerfontein, South Africa, as well as an exhibition foregrounding her conversations with Maya Angelou, titled Phenomenal Women, at the SMAC Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa.

Courtney-Clarke was included in HOPE, as part of the Prix Pictet Award travelling exhibition, which travelled in 2019 from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Porter Gallery in London, UK to the Hillside Forum in Tokyo, Japan, and in 2020 to Luma Westbau, Zurich and to the Mouravieff-Apostol House & Museum in Moscow, Russia. HOPE continues its world tour in 2022 to venues in Verona, Milan, Dublin, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Singapore and Beijing. Further group exhibitions include: Face to Face, curated by Ekow Eshun, on display in the King’s Cross Tunnel in Londo, UK in 2020; and Crossing Night: Regional Identities x Global Context, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, USA (2019).

Most recently, Courtney-Clarke’s work was selected for the LensCulture’s Critics Choice Awards, by Emma Lewis, Tate Modern; Rhea Combs, National Portrait Gallery; Clare Grafik, The Photographers’ Gallery and Alexa Becker, Kehrer Verlag Publishers.

Courtney-Clarke’s work has been commissioned, published and distributed by, amongst others, Hoa-Qui in France; Speranza in Italy; Anzenburger in Austria; Mega Press in Tokyo; Photo Researchers in the USA; the BBC in the UK; and CBC in Canada.


Maya Angelou • Margaret Courtney-Clarke | PHENOMENAL WOMEN 14.08.21 - 25.09.21 | Cape Town

Cry Sadness Into The Coming Rain
22.09.18 – 16.11.18 | Stellenbosch

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