Born in 1956 in the small town of Montagu in the Western Cape, Willie started painting when he was seven years old. As an unemployed youth he spent some time in the South African Defense Force in an attempt to make ends meet and support his family financially. It was only at age 30 that he returned to his childhood interest in art and joined the Community Arts Project in District Six, Cape town.
He used his art to express a political conscience, and became active in the anti-apartheid movement. In the 1980s he became gradually more successful and known nationally and internationally and turned professional in 1991.
Willie’s works are collages assembled from scraps and junk from flea markets, townships and scrap yards like shoes, bones, tins, newspaper clippings, metal pieces combined with the use of oil paints and photographs. The themes of the art works stem from the political issues of the time: during the Apartheid era, forced removals and brutalisation of society; today, crime, greed, poverty and corruption.
Willie has exhibited extensively in South Africa, Dakar, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Spain, United Kingdom, Japan and America.