Sue Williamson occupies an influential and highly respected position in the South African art world, as a visual artist but also as a writer and cultural worker. The main thread connecting her art is an ability to bring the marginalized into the mainstream consciousness of society, to make visible the unseen and thereby record for posterity that which might otherwise be overlooked. In the 1980s, 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 recent video work focusing on South African immigrants is a return to this concern.
Williamson also contributes to South African society through her literary talents. She is the published author of two respected books – Art in South Africa: the Future Present and Resistance Art in South Africa – and an art critic and founder of Art Throb. Her first career as a journalist and subsequent move into copy writing for the advertising industry provided good grounding.
Founder member of arts organization Public Eye, Williamson is also a cultural organizer who contributes to many collective or group art projects. Of these various hats, she says: “I am an artist first. I am interested in the way art can change and influence things and that process is helped by writing about it. Those different roles all feed back into each other.”
Williamson has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including The Short Century (2001), Liberated Voices
(1999), Johannesburg Art Biennale (1997, 1995), Havana Biennale (1994) and Venice Biennale (1993). Her works are held in many private and public collections in the United States and South Africa. She lives and works in Cape Town.