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Sue Williamson: Between Memory and Forgetting

Saturday, February 11


04 Feb – 04 Jun 2023 – 10am-5pm Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays.

Admission free, no need to book.

Sue Williamson (b.1941) is a British-born South African artist and activist. ‘Between Memory and Forgetting’ presents an extended overview of her work, dating from 1981 until today as well as a major new sculptural commission.

This is Williamson’s first institutional show in the UK. For over 40 years, Williamson’s work has celebrated the underrated realisations of women, who played key roles not only in the liberation struggle, but in the years that followed.

The artist speaks of her work as a ‘generational circle’ as it aims to bring these women and their histories to a wider audience, while also connecting the societal changes they allowed with the lives of their granddaughters and the younger generations.

The series A Few South Africans and All Our Mothers shine a light on the empowering stories of these women. A Few South Africans is a series of mixed media portraits, the heroines of the liberation struggle, while All Our Mothers is a parallel series of photographs dating from 1981, both in black and white and colour. Williamson also focuses on the historical past, considering the events that form a background to the present.

Colouring In reproduces every page in a child’s colouring in book bought by the artist at the Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein, South Africa in the 1980s. A new sculptural commission, titled Towards Another World is a seven metre-high suspended memorial made of embroidered fabric. It takes as a starting point two identical looking memorials dedicated to those who died during the Anglo-Boer War, or the South African War (1899-1902).

The monuments are located in Plymouth, UK and in Bloemfontein, South Africa. The title of the work is from the sentence engraved in the Boer War memorial in Plymouth. Towards Another World considers the significance of memorials in the life of the community; those who are honoured, and those who do not receive a mention.

The proposed monument is presented as a fragile, ruptured entity, calling into question the way in which history has been memorialised in the past. Between Memory and Forgetting is an exhibition that speaks about liberation struggles, those who are not memorialised due to power hierarchies and the role and recognition of women who have fought and are still fighting for a more equal society.

Upcoming events

Wednesday, July 17
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Bringing together four distinct painters – Bernadette Kerrigan, Chris Martin, Daniel Pettitt, and EJ Hauser – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today explores the formal and informal ways each of them make sense of the world through paint.
Saturday, July 20
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Hettie Judah, writer and exhibition curator, shares insights from her research for her book, Acts of Creation: On Art and Motherhood which explores the joys, messes, myths and mishaps of parenting through visual culture.
Wednesday, July 24
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Take a deeper lunchtime look into ‘The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure’.
Saturday, July 27
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Come and immerse yourselves in an exhibition that explores pivotal moments in Plymouth’s past and present relationship with the sea.

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