‘There’s something I must tell you’ An exhibition by Sue Williamson

  • Posted: Jun 26, 2014

Iziko Slave Lodge, 27 June until 30 June 2015 

Iziko Museums of South Africa will host the exhibition: “There’s something I must tell you” by artist, Sue Williamson, on 27 June until 30 June 2015. This exhibition focuses on women activists involved in the political struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and the artist’s latest work, an installation documenting conversations between iconic women involved in the struggle and their Born Free granddaughters. The exhibition reveals a timeline across three bodies of work, moving from the 80s to current work set against a theme of women’s involvement in the struggle for democracy.

The determination and strength of women’s fight against apartheid resonates with the main theme of the Slave Lodge: “From human wrongs to human rights.” Thus it is appropriate to host this exhibition at the Iziko Slave Lodge. “Women - the mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters - of South Africa have been instrumental catalysts in the fight against apartheid. They have served as the foundation, support and drivers of change. It is imperative that we share these stories, recognise and acknowledge their contribution to society and our nation, and build on their legacy,” says Rooksana Omar, CEO of Iziko. 

Through this work, a much needed discussion around the meaning of democracy and the importance of active citizenship is reignited, at a pivotal moment in time when South Africa marks the 20th anniversary of its democracy.

The Iziko Slave Lodge provides a new and exciting context for one of South Africa’s pre-eminent, established artists and writers on resistance art in the country. The installation, ‘There’s something I must tell you’, was recently acquired by Iziko with the generous support of the Rockefeller Foundation.

The exhibition iscentred on the significant historical and personal events of six women struggle veterans who relate their recollections and reflections. The women and granddaughters interviewed are: the late Amina Cachalia and her granddaughter Luiza Cachalia; Dr Brigalia Bam and Busisiwa Bam; Ilse Fischer and Thandi Lewin; Vesta Smith and Tammy Leigh Lodge; Caroline Motsoaledi and Busisiwe Khatibe; and Rebecca and Nompumelelo Kotane. The six pairs are reflected in conversation on separate screens, supplemented by full length portrait studies of both women as well as photographs of the older women from their family albums. The original production of this work was made possible by support from the Goethe-Institute and the National Arts Council of South Africa. Iziko will be creating educational programmes and a special website that will focus on this installation.

The exhibition also showcases the artist’s earlier work in the form of two series. ‘A few South Africans’, created between 1983 and 1987, filled a void in the representation of political leaders in the press and public imagination. It consists of 17 classic etched and screen-printed portraits of women involved in the struggle against apartheid. These include Charlotte Maxeke, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Amina Cachalia, Helen Joseph, Mamphela Rampele, Caroline Motsoaledi and others. The work is from the collection of the Iziko South African National Gallery. It is complemented by a series (‘All Our Mothers’) which comprises photographic portraits taken by Sue Williamson of activists, including Naz Ebrahim, Annie Silinga, Eslina Silinga, Virginia Mngoma, Helen Joseph, and Cheryl Carolus.

Sue Williamson’s work will take on another character within the context of a social history museum and the artist has acknowledged this new context by including a small collection of artefacts from the period of apartheid resistance, appropriate to the current commemoration and thinking about the meanings of 20 years of democracy in South Africa. 

Sue Williamson’s work is represented in every major art museum collection in South Africa and included in international art institutions and private collections. In 2011, she was honoured with the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowship, and in 2011 took up her three-month residency at the Bellagio Center in Italy.

‘There’s something I must tell you’ is curated by Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Creative Arts Fellow, Sue Williamson and Shanaaz Galant of the Iziko Social History Collections Department. The exhibition is made possible with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation and will be on display at the Iziko Slave Lodge from 27 June 2014 until 30 June 2015.


Issued by: Lee-Shay Collison

Media Liaison Officer: Institutional Advancement, Iziko Museums of South Africa
Telephone +27 (0) 21 481 3861                                   Facsimile +27 (0) 21 461 9620
Cell: 073 585 9843                                                             E-mail: lcollison@iziko.org.za
Website http://www.iziko.org.za                            

On behalf of:     Office of the CEO, Iziko Museums of South Africa

Notes to editor:

About Iziko Museums of South Africa (Iziko)

Iziko operates 11 national museums, the Planetarium, the Social History Centre and three collection‑specific libraries in Cape Town.  The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections that reflect our diverse African heritage.  Iziko is a public entity and non-profit organisation that brings together these museums under a single governance and leadership structure.  The organisation allows *free access to all individuals on commemorative days, (*excluding the Castle of Good Hope and Planetarium). Visit our webpage at www.iziko.org.za, join our online community on Facebook (www.facebook.com/IzikoMuseums) or follow us on Twitter (@Iziko_Museums) for regular updates on events, news and new exhibitions. 

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