Sue Williamson (b. 1941) is based in Cape Town, South Africa. Williamson occupies an influential and highly respected position in the South African art world, not only for her formidable artistic talent but also for her long history as a writer and cultural worker. Her work is held in many local and international collections, including those of the Tate Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, the Walther Collection, the Daimler Collection, the Zeitz Collection, Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Museum of the 21st Century, and MoMA New York. In 2015 ‘Sue Williamson: Life and Work’ was published by Skira Editore. According to the publisher the book presents for the first time all major works of Williamson’s, and contains contributions by award-winning journalist Mark Gevisser, historians Chika Okeke-Ogulu and Ciraj Rassool, and leading scholar Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela.
Amien Hendricks at the seven steps, District Six. 1981 forms part of Williamson’s documentation of the destruction of District Six in the 1980’s. Hendricks, a carpenter who was one of the last people to be forcibly removed from the area, is captured in pensive mood at the steps, which used to act as a popular meeting place.
Born in Lichfield, England in 1941. Family emigrated to South Africa in 1948.
Lives and works in Cape Town.
In the 1980s, Sue Williamson was well known for her series of portraits of women involved in the country’s political struggle. A Few South Africans went some way towards filling the representational void of people and events during apartheid. And in many ways, her video work focusing on South African immigrants is a return to this concern.
She says: “You become aware of the audience to whom you speak. In that sense, you think backwards: what you have to say, whom you say it to, and how it will reach the audience. Having to consider your work through the eyes of somebody who knows nothing about you as an artist and what you are doing is a useful exercise.”
Williamson has managed to avoid the rut of being caught in an apartheid-era aesthetic, she says: “I am never particularly interested in doing what I did the last time. I take one thing and work it out a number of ways.” This fact is reflected in the variety of media Williamson embraces, from print to mixed media, video and site-specific installations.