Discover Whole Worlds Between Covers at Spier’s New Exhibition, Disrupt II
Spier, one of South Africa’s established wine farms, is now the home of Disrupt II, an exhibition showcasing Emma Willemse’s artworks. Showcased at the Contemporary African Art in 2018, the intricate artwork has been brought back to South Africa by Spier Arts Trust.
These delicately crafted art forms are curated to form a visual language, and by delving into Emma Willemse’s work, one will discover the intricate tales of our rich history as humanity, particularly the social challenges of displacement; the challenges of which we face today. In the artist’s series of 101 handmade books, entitled “101 ways too long for a home,” one finds the seamless placement of her work allusive to placement, and on a deeper level, the operating place of human emotion and consciousness in our modern world.
Emma Willimse, who holds a Master’s degree in Visual Arts, uses materials such as discarded parquet floor blocks in the creation of visual stories, further illustrating the disparity of placement and movement as human beings. The elusive beauty of her art holds great metaphorical significance, and should one gleam deeply at the smooth lines of her multi-dimensional work, one could see the deep story of human civilisation, and perhaps even the deterioration and importance of stability; a great obstacle that plagues us all today.
Emma’s work is ingenious in design and form. Her art addresses socio-economic issues from the place of its origin – the displacement from a home. Subtly embedded into the covers of her books, are layers of human history, and once again allude to the grand design of “place”. The bold forms of her book covers pop into view, and are decorated with fine-textured drawings.
As the insightful arts writer, Mary Corrigall writes, “Displacement from a ‘home’ is a theme that echoes in a number of works and naturally links up neatly with her novel material: reclaimed parquet flooring. This disused material obviously evokes a ‘home’ but also a history of a place and movements in it that leave a trace. Floorboards are perhaps an overlooked archive of human movement that allude to the multiple histories and experiences that are very subtly embedded in its surface.”
The books’ covers, she adds, “are the repositories for everyday experiences on the outside, while inside they contain the magical nuggets, which might be bold cut-outs that pop into view or very fine drawings that gradually blossom into view via a concertina of pages.”
Should one wish to take a deeper delve into the history and consciousness, visitors are invited to explore each book on show at the Disrupt II exhibition, with many enticing surprises to discover by flipping through their pages.
About Emma Willemse
Emma Willemse is a conceptual artist and art educator located in Riebeek Kasteel, in the Swartland region of the Western Cape. Her art-making practice deals with issues of displacement, place-making and sense of place. She holds a Master’s degree in Visual Arts from the University of South Africa and qualifications in psychology and librarianship. Her artworks are technically varied and include sculptural installations, printmaking, artist’s books, painting and drawing.
Emma has exhibited extensively in South Africa, Africa and abroad, and her works have been included in the Art Bank Joburg, Nando’s Collection, the South African Embassy in Beijing and the Spier Collection.
Her award-winning artist’s books installation, consisting of 101 handmade books, have been exhibited in various configurations in Stellenbosch and Johannesburg, South Africa; Florence, Italy; Paris, France; London, UK; and at the Dak’Art Biennale in Senegal.
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