Sue Williamson (1941-)
A Few South Africans (series)
This 1980s series of prints, of which the CCAC has six, was made at a time when South Africa was still firmly in the grip of apartheid and the artist was studying for her Advanced Diploma in Printmaking at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town. The series was a result of her engagement with the anti-apartheid struggle and attempted to make visible and to celebrate some of the women involved in the struggle for freedom.
At the time, the faces of these women seldom appeared in the popular press, and little was known about them by white South Africans. Postcards printed from the series were, however, widely distributed through alternative book shops and elsewhere. The artist took some of the images on which the photo etchings are based, while others were sourced from books in university libraries or other archives.
The backgrounds behind the centrally placed portraits reflect elements of the sitter’s biography at the time of the artwork’s making. Motifs in the frames were also derived from African textiles such as kanga. The decorative borders pay homage to domestic practice in the townships, where photographs with personal significance are displayed on top of coloured papers and printed ephemera.
Photographs by Ben Law Viljoen © CCAC