By Melissa Cohen
In a small studio hidden away in Salt River works an inspirational artist whose work aims to reconcile with the past and encourage us to face our future. Sue Williamson spoke to me about her latest exhibition taking place at the Goodman Gallery this month, as well as her triumphant life becoming a “Struggle activist” through her artwork.
“I want to uncover and question the stories behind the history,” mentions Williamson as she discusses her reasoning for focusing her work around such serious issues. Williamson started out as a printmaker, writer and photographer and after finding her love and passion for art, she hasn’t turned back. She uses her creativity as a tool to question the world and the people living in it.
After working with names such as Amina Cachalia, Winnie Mandela and Nampele Ramphele, Williamson has become widely renowned for her work on apartheid as well as focusing specifically on the women of the Struggle. “I feel like women play a strong role in South Africa and my reasoning for putting so much focus on these women is because during the Struggle women were invisible in society. I wanted to liberate women through my work and give them a voice,” she says.
Williamson’s latest work ‘All Our Mothers’ is an installation piece which is a dialogue between six pairs of women.
The installation is unique as it contrasts six women from the Struggle in conversation with their granddaughters. “The reason for contrasting the older generation with the present is to add layers of history and give the viewer a sense of place by framing the women in their natural environments. I want the viewer to feel as though they are in the same room as the women and can feel the honesty of these women and their stories,” discusses Williamson as we watch the installation piece in her studio.
After I had watched Sue’s installation piece, I was extremely touched by the “rawness” of the installation and the interviews that took place between the women. “I want people to come away after seeing this piece with a knowledge surrounding the struggle that these women had to go through and how I have aimed to use this visual installation piece as a platform for people to engage in honest, meaningful discussion around our country and its past”, says Williamson.
I have realised after chatting to this remarkable artist how important it is to engage with women who live different lives to the ones we may be used to. ‘All Our Mothers’ is a great way to grapple with the past and see how far we have come as a nation. It’s truly wonderful to see those who stood up for what they believed in, in order to ensure that, today, women have a place in society, celebrated during Women’s Month.
* ‘All Our Mothers’ kicks off at the GOODMAN GALLERY CAPE TOWN (situated on 3rd Floor, Fairweather House,176 Sir Lowry Rd, Woodstock) on Thursday August 15 and runs until September 14.
Gallery Hours: Tuesdays to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm; Saturday, 10am to 4pm. Closed on Mondays.
For more information, call 021 462 7573/4, send an email to email@example.com, or visit www.goodman-gallery.com.