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WILLEMIEN DE VILLIERS
Willemien de Villiers is a South African artist and writer, born in Pretoria and currently residing in Muizenberg. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts at the University of Pretoria and her work has been shown in both group and solo exhibitions around the country.
Her work is a dialogue between real and imagined microscopic biological phenomena, reconstructing the common cellular history of all living things through atomized patterning.
The process of decay and disintegration, and the inevitable new growth and integration that follows, inform this major theme in her work, especially with regard to memory (personal, political and social).
The making of her work demands patience: painting, stitching, knitting, knotting and cutting. This layered process conceals the banal and the obvious and reveals what is only sometimes glimpsed. This is further explored by affording the reverse side of her free-hanging embroideries (“the backstories”) the same emotional and artistic weight as the front views.
Her writing is inspired by connections between people, as functioning or non-functioning relationships – in her first novel, Kitchen Casualties (Jacana, 2003; Albanian translation in 2004, Viktima të Kuzhinës, Botimet Max) she explores themes of sexual abuse within a familial setting, and the devastating imprint that keeping secrets can leave on a family. Her second novel, Virgin in the Treehouse (Jacana, 2007) explores themes of the sacred male/female, a search for wholeness, and coming home. A father-daughter relationship dominates here.
Her stories are published in various collections: 180 degrees, (Oshun, 2004); Women Flashing, (Edited by Anne Schuster and Maire Fischer, 2004); Dinaane: Short Stories by South African Women, edited by Maggie Davey (Telegram, 2007); Lovely Beyond Any Singing – landscapes in South African writing: an anthology compiled by Helen Moffett (Double Storey, 2006).
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