In the exhibition titled Uproot, Emma Willemse is continuing her investigation of ideas around displacement, yet widening her exploration to the social phenomenon of sense of place, which comprise the meanings we as humans, as well as animals and all other living beings, assign to space and place.
Emma Willemse’s interest in displacement originated from her own experience of the loss of several homes in the 1990’s. She conducted an academic study into the effects rendered by the loss of a home on the psyche of the displaced and came to the conclusion that this traumatic experience has consequential losses of memory and identity. The quest to make these notions visible runs like a golden vein through her oeuvre as artist, initiated from a very personal manifestation and developing into more universal issues of loss.
In Uproot, Willemse expands her investigation into the natural environment. In much the same way that a floor of a house could be considered as the footprint of a home, and its demolishment could therefore be deemed as an uprootment of all the meanings we assigned to that home, she now interrogates questions around the physical uprootment of trees. If trees are considered to be sentient beings and are able to communicate, according to new research, and trees create ecological environments in which a myriad of life forms flourish; then trees could be considered creators of a sense of place. Through her visual art practice, Willemse probes the aftermath of the losses ocurring when trees are destroyed, asking questions such as: If a tree is uprooted, can the resulting losses of a sense of place be measured?
True to her practice, Willemse will exhibit works in a wide range of media, including an installation from found materials as well as mixed media works on paper, digital prints, drawings and handmade collagraphs and monotypes.
(1) Grant, R. Do trees talk to each other. Smithsonian Magazine, March 2018 https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-whispering-trees-180968084/ (Accessed on 09/122/2019)