Sue Williamson

Sue Williamson is part of the generation of South African artists and photographers whose work challenged the apartheid government in the 70s and 80s. Her best known work at the time was the series, A Few South Africans, etched and screen-printed portraits of women deeply involved in the struggle for liberation, portraits which were also widely distributed as postcards. Post 1994, Williamson turned her attention to the stories of apartheid atrocities being revealed in the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with such works as Truth Games, and the video series, No More Fairy Tales.

Williamson was born in Lichfield, England in 1941 and immigrated with her family to South Africa when she was seven. Her studio is in Cape Town, and her work engages with themes of human rights, memory, trauma and identity formation. Trained as a printmaker at the Art Students League of New York and the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town, the artist has worked across a variety of media including photography, video, mixed media installation, and constructed objects.

She has been represented on numerous biennales, and her work is held in many international public collections, such as MoMA New York, the Pompidou Centre Paris, the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, the National Museum of African Art, Washington and the Tate Modern and Victoria & Albert Museums, London. Her first London solo show, Testimony, was held at the Goodman Gallery in 2021. She is also known for her writing on contemporary African art.

A Few South Africans

Made at a time when South Africa was still firmly under the grip of apartheid, A Few South Africans was a series that attempted to make visible the history of women who had made an impact in some way or other on the struggle for freedom. The ‘Few’ in the title referred to the fact that they were a small number of many who were involved in this struggle.

At that time, the faces of these women never appeared in the popular press, and little was known about them. Many of the photos of the women on which the photoetchings were based I took myself, but others were sourced from banned books in university libraries, or other sources.

By placing the women centrally in the frame, I gave them the status of heroines. The backgrounds reflect more detail about their histories.

All Our Mothers

All Our Mothers is an ongoing series of photo portraits of women dating from 1983 celebrating the strength of the extraordinary women who helped to bring this country to freedom. Some of the women, like Caroline Motsoaledi, were photographed first in 1984, then nearly 30 years later, in 2012.

It’s a pleasure to meet you

It’s a pleasure to meet you is a conversation between two young people in their twenties – Candice Mama and Siyah Mgoduka – whose fathers were killed by apartheid assassin Eugene de Kock. Candice’s family met de Kock in jail, and she has forgiven and even hugged him. Siyah describes security policeman Gideon Niewoudt giving him the finger when he was a child of 8 at the TRC hearings on the death of his father, and challenges Candice on the question of forgiveness.

Last Supper at Manley Villa

Last Supper at Manley Villa, 1981 – 2008 is a portfolio of ten black and white photographs taken on and around the final celebration of Eid in August 1981, at Manley Villa, District Six, Cape Town, a facsimile of an eviction notice, and a colour photograph taken in 2008 showing the empty land where Manley Villa once stood. Manley Villa had been the home of Naz and Hari Ebrahim and their family for more than thirty years.

Recent Book Release

Click on either image to find out more.

Connect with Sue | | Instagram |

Sophy Rickett

Suné Woods