Willemien de Villiers is a South African artist and writer, currently residing in Muizenberg, Cape Town.
Her work is a dialogue between real and imagined microscopic biological phenomena, reconstructing the common cellular history of all living things through atomised 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). Her paintings are oil on stretched canvas. For her stitched works, she uses vintage domestic textiles – like doilies, tray cloths, tablecloths that show a lot of wear and tear, with a sense of previous lives, or narratives to work with. Domestic violence (all violence against women) is a recurring theme.
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, (Editied 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).