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making and meaning

She dreams of waves rolling down the railway tracks, filling the subway tunnels underneath before surging out onto the road. Cars flip sideways to float away to who-knows-where. Her faraway friend, R, waves from the other side of the short tunnel, treading water up to her neck in the churning foam of the sea behind her.

She often dreams of being tumbled in deep, black water; suspended in time. Fear and excitement in equal measure.

Waking up from this brief and vivid dream she feels deep loneliness. There’s no meaning there, she thinks, before turning on her side and drifting off to sleep.

Rob Tarr's photo of massive wave at Kalk Bay Harbour
Rob Tarr’s photo of massive wave at Kalk Bay Harbour

Photos of Massive Waves in South Africa – Kalk Bay Harbour – SAPeople – Your Worldwide South African Community

present tense

Such random thoughts and questions today.

I’m trying to understand my compulsion to stitch images onto cloth. Also trying to understand why I’m drawn to certain images and not others … and to find a link, if it exists, between them. I know that I am searching for connections between all living things; connections that speak of some kind of universal unity, or origin. Something simple and complete, like a small dot, the full stop at the end of this sentence.

Willemien de Villiers | Personal Mythology
Willemien de Villiers | Personal Mythology

Repeat patterns console me, maybe because I frequently imagine my body’s molecular functions to play out as a continuous patterned chain of actions: hurt and healing, disease and repair. A chained reaction, like a daisy chain, or a string of paper people holding hands.

Or something like the image below.

Detail from a painting by me that doesn't exist anymore.
Willemien de Villiers | Inside of me, detail | oil on canvas

Often I return to imagery of the female body, and reproductive processes and organs – images of botanical and mammalian wombs that magnetically pull ideas from my mind.

What comes first: meaning or making?

Maybe I am hoping to stitch all my selves together.

Willemien de Villiers | Personal Mythology
Willemien de Villiers | Personal Mythology

What is it I am hoping to find when I trawl images from medieval astronomy or fifteenth century microscopy or seventeenth century cellular biology on the Internet? My mind in an unfocused haze, like the soft gaze of meditation, yet razor sharp when recognising the image I need. What, or who, is behind this knowing? Is the person who knows, separate from the one who seeks?

Willemien de Villiers | detail
Willemien de Villiers | detail
Willemien de Villiers | Get the Fuck out of my House
Willemien de Villiers | Get the Fuck out of my House

I sometimes find it useful to run (more like ducking and diving) with my camera in an attempt to erase the surface meaning of a work. However, these images then reveal hidden layers that (alas) start a new search for meaning.

Willemien de Villiers | stitched canvas
Willemien de Villiers | erasure 1

Willemien de Villiers | erasure 2Willemien de Villiers | erasure 2

Willemien de Villiers | Erasure 3
Willemien de Villiers | Erasure 3

Happy creating, and making sense of it all!

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Comments (2)

I understand stand the desire for connection and meaning, I’ve often thought maybe I will arrive one day and the light bulb will go on, but lately, I have been thinking to arrive, would be the end

Willemien, I wonder if you have a brother who moved to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

I have also found images on the internet from the17th Century that I reproduced with needle and thread (in 2014.) I was thinking of my 45 ancestors who came to New-France, sponsored by the King of France, to marry and have children. One of them, Marie de Lamarre, and one of her daughters, were midwives. I prefer the French word to “midwife”: sage-femme.

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