Alison Williams

The Curtain
oil on hand made ceramic tiles (72 tiles hanging)

I got really confused at first – re the term “diaspora”… dictionary definitions mention the relocation of the Jews. “The dispersion of Jews outside of Israel from the sixth century B.C” and further research mentions “A dispersion of an originally homogeneous entity, such as a language or culture”. The term diaspora has also been applied to other peoples with large numbers living outside their traditional homelands, and this makes it easier to understand for me – there is such a large flux of people leaving Africa to live elsewhere.

I feel rather strongly about this yet I have not yet defined why – I am Jewish (my mother was a Russian Jew but married a Non Jew and brought us up as out of the faith). In terms of identity perhaps I have always felt a little “lost”. I am an African (South African) yet I have lived abroad (Canada) and returned to live in my native land for the love of the country. Once Africa is in your blood it never leaves, the smell of the earth the chaos of my country. I belong here and am proud to be an African.

The work I produced in response to “african diaspora” is based more on that feeling of being “lost”. It revolves around a necessary finding of oneself… in other words – it makes no matter where we are in the world, we are housed within our skin and skin is what keeps the insides in. We are all hidden. We can be Jewish living in Madrid, or African living in Hawaii but when we are alone in a crowd we are in our skin. This was a personal feeling that I got when I was abroad.

Not just about me – “the Curtain” is about privacy and about the hidden – “what we do behind closed curtains… yet in my picture most of the curtains are open and the people only “think” they are hidden. Much like the monstrosities accurring throughout Africa – the curtain of violence is open for the whole world to see.

The Curtain also pertains to sexual issues/ rape in Africa and child molestations… these terrible deeds are rife in my country. Children and women are abominably raped and abused on a daily basis. I wish the curtains could be pulled back further to help those behind them.


© Alison Williams