Conversation with Scott Eric Williams

By Talita Swarts

On the 1st of June I attended the exhibition ‘Salon Afrique – a Homecoming Reimagined’ curated by Beathur Mgoza Baker and Sara Bint Moneer Khan for the reopening of the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre’s cultural venue. The exhibition explored themes of visibility, a safe passage and creating a homecoming away from home that welcomes diverse identities from across Africa to commune and coexist under one roof, in Cape Town.

One of the artworks selected for this exhibition, was a work by the artist Scott Eric Williams titled: Conversation. The soft sculpture installation created with intricately woven shoelaces represents two women joined together or connected through conversation. Williams created this textile artwork as an extension of his continued meditation on urban space, intangible heritage, and collaborative art praxis. Intangible heritage he explained as “the things we share on a cultural basis like food, music, and dance, that forms part of our makeup as people.”

I asked Scott to unpack the meaning behind this fascinating artwork, this is what he had to say:

The artwork was started during ‘on-again-off-again’ lockdowns in 2021 on a residency initiated by Igsaan Martin of Martin Projects, The Scheryn foundation, and Louisvale wine farm in Stellenbosch.

“I usually create more abstract works in this shoelace sculpture medium but since we were reflecting on our collective human condition during lockdown, I wanted to create something more figurative.”

The artwork takes on the shape of two feminine heads facing each other. The two heads are connected between more loosely hanging braids at the bottom of each figure.

“I wanted to represent the collaboration which will stimulate reconnection in a post-lockdown world and so the strands connecting the two figures really hint at the common threads and equality which must exist in conversation for us to create grounds for respectful collaboration.”

Although the outline of the work takes on human forms Williams retains his love for abstract by weaving patterns inside the faces which are strongly inspired by aerial cartography.

“At the end of the day I have an inescapable fascination with space and so I reflect that interest in the patterns I’ve created inside these two faces.”