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See Breathtaking Photos From Julian Lennon’s African Odyssey ‘Horizon’

The artist and philanthropist shares stories from the trip that inspired his new gallery show

Julian Lennon

Julian Lennon

Anthony Cruz

Last February, Julian Lennon began a thousand-foot climb in the mountains of Ethiopia. His companions sped ahead, but the 51-year-old artist took his time, catching smaller details when he paused to catch his breath. "I just sat down, looked around and really absorbed it," Lennon tells Rolling Stone. "Otherwise we would have gotten up to the top of the mountain, I'd have a nice view, take a few snaps and go back down."

Lennon did find time for some snaps, however, and his latest photo exhibition, "Horizon," displays the most remarkable of those at New York's Emmanuel Fremin Gallery. Where "Timeless," his 2010 show, featured photos of U2, Kate Hudson and his half-brother Sean, the new collection documents Lennon's trips to Ethiopia and Kenya. There his non-profit the White Feather Foundation collaborated with Charity: Water (another non-profit) to bring clean H20 to thousands of people.

Traveling in a Jeep for hours each day, Lennon attempted to shoot regular life in East Africa, taking stills of surrealistic landscapes, lone animals and inquisitive children. "These people are incredible," he says. "They survive, and it's really, really mind-blowing."

Julian Lennon

Julian Lennon

“Horizon”

Most of the guides in Ethiopia, such as the one in this photo, are barefoot, 70-year-old men. Lennon was amazed at how they maneuvered. "They hop, skip and jump like goats on top of the mountain compared to anybody else up there. They are so fit, it's unbelievable. Hopping about like there's no tomorrow. But that's the environment they grew up in, so they know it."

Julian Lennon

Julian Lennon

“Reverence”

On the mountain Lennon climbed, he came across a small, painted church carved around the side. "It's where Ethiopian kings used to go up and mediate. How these people and the priests lived up there in those conditions is mind-blowing. One almost can't comprehend how they did that and survived. But their belief is to be closer to God."

Julian Lennon

Julian Lennon

“Scopium”

Lennon took approximately 5,000 photos during his trip and foresees a Horizon 2 in the future. "This is sort of like the tip of the iceberg. It was good to be able to see this first-hand, because with the White Feather Foundation, I've been helping a few causes but have never physically been to any of these places."

Julian Lennon

Julian Lennon

“Behind Closed Doors”

Lennon assisted in building dormitories for the schools. "I went down with all the kids and said, 'What do you need?' And they said, 'A dormitory would be great. We have to walk to school in the dark at 5 in the morning, we're here all day and we walk home in the dark and then we have to do all our chores — wood and water for our family — and then we do our homework.'" He still recalls how some of the children would greet him. "Every time you'd walk or drive by anywhere, they would always come up in unison and say, 'How are yoooou?' and it always put the biggest smile on my face."

Julian Lennon

Julian Lennon

“Follow”

"It was beautiful. The sun was rising, and it was this big, red mountain, almost like as rock. We moved at such speed that it was a bit of a haze, and that's mostly why the camera was there: to keep a record for me."

Julian Lennon

Jennifer Gross

Julian in Africa

In Kenya, Lennon visited primary and secondary schools. "The kids were incredibly amazing and wanted desperately to have knowledge and work and create and become something, not only for themselves. A lot of them wanted to become lawyers and teachers, to come back to their communities to help them in the future."

Julian Lennon

Julian Lennon

“Hope”

"I believe it's a she. I could be wrong though, because you didn't know whether the kids there were a girl or a boy. They had such honesty and beauty in their faces, absolutely breathtaking. There's just so much wisdom and knowledge behind those eyes, and such comfort and grace – like there's no worry in the world. I think he or she knows where they're going."

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