Published 09 February 2020 in Press



Exhibition by Emma Willemse

RK Contemporary, Riebeek Kasteel

9 February to 1 March 2020


Artist statement


In the exhibition titled Uproot, I am continuing my investigation of ideas around displacement, yet widening my 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. 


My interest in displacement originated from my own experience of the loss of several homes in the 1990’s. I 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 my oeuvre as artist, initiated from a very personal manifestation and developing into more universal issues of loss.


In Uproot, I expand my 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, I now interrogate questions around the physical uprootment of trees. If trees are considered to be sentient beings and are able to communicate, according to new research[1], 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 my visual art practice, I probe 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 my practice, I 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.


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