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Sue Williamson | Short Stories in a Longer Tale

20 July - 24 August 2024
Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

New and important unseen early works by Sue Williamson, marking the artist’s 30th year with Goodman Gallery.

Williamson has continued to exhibit all over the world, and last year had solo shows at The Box Museum in Plymouth, UK, titled ‘Between Memory and Forgetting’; at the Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno in Las Palmas, titled ‘Other Voices, Other Cities’ and a two-person exhibition with Lebohang Kganye, at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, US, titled ‘Tell Me What You Remember’. A major retrospective of her five-decades long career will open at Iziko South African National Gallery on 19 February 2025, titled ‘There’s something I must tell you: a retrospective.’

In ‘Short Stories in a Longer Tale’, Williamson sources news media and archival references to unpack six key moments in South and West Africa’s complex and layered history, using printmaking, photography, drawing, video, embroidery and installation in her incisive work.


Monotype with hand writing collage on archival paper
Work: 38 x 32 cm
Monotype with hand writing collage on archival paper
Work: 38.5 x 32 cm
Monotype with hand writing collage on archival paper
Work: 38.5 x 32 cm
Monoprint with hand writing collage on archival paper
Image: 38.5 x 32 cm
Archival prints on Tyvek, string, Hand stamping, found objects (installation of 21 pieces)
Work: 189 x 385.5 cm
Archival Ink on archival paper
Image: 59.5 x 39 cm
Archival Ink on archival paper
Image: 59.5 x 39 cm


Sue Williamson image

Sue Williamson

Sue Williamson (b. 1941, Lichfield, UK) emigrated with her family to South Africa in 1948. In the 1970s, Williamson started to make work which addressed social change and by the late 1980s she was well known for her series of portraits of women involved in the country’s political struggle, titled A Few South Africans (1980s). 

Major international solo exhibitions include: Can’t Remember, Can’t Forget at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg (2017); Other Voices, Other Cities at the SCAD Museum of Art in Georgia, USA (2015), Messages from the Moat, Den Haag, Netherlands (2003) and The Last Supper Revisited (2002) at the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Williamson has participated in biennales around the world, including the Kochi Muziris Biennale (2019); several Havana Biennales as well as Sydney, Istanbul, Venice and Johannesburg biennales. Group exhibitions include, Resist: the 1960s Protests, Photography and Visual Legacy (2018) at BOZAR in Brussels; Women House (2017, 2018) at La Monnaie de Paris and National Museum for Women in the Arts (Washington D.C); Citizens: Artists and Society Tate Modern, London; Being There (2017) at Fondation Louis Vuitton (Paris) and Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life (2014) at the International Centre for Photography New York and the Museum Africa (Johannesburg), curated by Okwui Enwezor, and The Short Century (2001-2) also curated by Okwui Enwezor, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and P.S.1 New York.

Williamson’s works feature in museum collections, ranging from the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Tate Modern (London), Victoria & Albert Museum (London), Pompidou Centre, (Paris), Hammer Museum, (Los Angeles) to the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution (Washington D.C), Iziko South African National Gallery (Cape Town) and the Johannesburg Art Gallery (Johannesburg). Williamson has authored two books - South African Art Now (2009) and Resistance Art in South Africa (1989). In 1997, Williamson founded, a leading website on South African contemporary art and the first of its kind in the country.  Awards and fellowships include The Living Legends Award (2020), attributed by the South African government’s Department of Sports, Arts and Culture; the University of Johannesburg’s Ellen Kuzwayo Award (2018); the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowship (2011); the Smithsonian’s Visual Artist Research Award Fellowship (2007) and the Lucas Artists Residency Fellowship (2005) from Montalvo Art Center in California.

Williamson lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.

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