House in my head - a mosaic collaboration

Emma Willemse in collaboration with HUB Studios in association with Hammered Rocks Mosaic Studio.

Commissioned by Spier Arts Trust

for the Unisa Art Walk at the Science and Engineering Campus, Florida, Johannesburg

Title of artwork: House in my head

Medium: Mosaic

Completed: 2022

Size: 3,876 x 1,95m


The original artwork constituting House in my head, was created by Emma Willemse in a laboriously hand collage process: pasting together carefully selected cut-out snippets of images found in old National Geographic Magazines. 


Willemse describes her intent as follows: “Although fascinating, the content of the National Geographic Magazine has always sat uncomfortable with me. I am asking questions about how knowledge is gained and produced in a post-colonial era, and how the imagery in these magazines reveal the one-sided gaze of the creators. By cutting and tearing the existing imagery used in these publications and re-contextualising it into new settings, I am recycling prevailing ways of viewing our world. It is an attempt to re-imagine an alternative reality, to re-use problematic perspectives and re-create new possibilities.”


The process of collaboration with Heinrich Joemath from Hammered Rocks Mosaic Studio to transform the collage into a large-scale mosaic artwork entailed a continuous back and forth communication to ensure that the intent and integrity of the original artwork was retained. Joemath’s quest was not to render a realistic depiction of the image, but rather to interpret the image in the medium of stone fragments. An inherent result of this process is that the image is abstracted, which further plays into the notion of creating new ways of looking at the world we live in.