About image

My career

The scroll in my hand testified to the fact that I had successfully completed a Fine Arts degree, but as I stood looking at it, the realisation dawned that several years of theory does not an artist make – and thus my journey began. The first steps took me to Pretoria Boys High where I was to teach for the next few years. This was the early sixties, and I was privileged to share the staffroom with amazing, forward looking artists like Walter Batiss and Larry Scully.

My path crossed those of equally amazing parents like the sculptor Johan van Heerden and the painter Irmin Henkel, who later introduced me to the Belgian artist Clement Serneels. My conservative and political outlooks changed dramatically through the influence of these free-thinking individuals. South Africa was then a hotbed of political intrigue and one of my pupils was Peter Hain . . .

Opportunities arose - I literally ran through every door that opened to me - and I started to see the world in many different dimensions and so my own perspectives started to take shape. I joined The South African Art Association (SAAA) whose members included the painters Bettie Cilliers-Barnard and Gunther van der Reis; Albert Werth - the Curator of The Pretoria Art Gallery and Muller Ballot the Art Historian. Besides the influences of these muses, I was fascinated by society in general, and my observations presented me with even greater prospects to express myself.

From Pretoria, I married and moved to Johannesburg where I was elected as President of The South African Art Association. During my tenure I was determined to afford opportunities to promising young artists and funds were raised to purchase two apartments in Paris where future generations could live for a year, immersed in the magic of the environment in which they found themselves. A little later, Volkskas (now ABSA) invested in a third apartment and linked it to the Volkskas Atelier Award now known as the ABSA Young Artists Award.

My life became an absorbing adventure as my path crossed those of the Art Historian Esmé Berman; Raymund van Niekerk the Director of the National Gallery; Alan Crump – academic and artist; as well as the emerging avant- garde of that period, painters like Karl Nel and Penny Siopis, and the ceramicist Hylton Nel. My long time friendships with the sculptor Edoardo Villa; gallery owner Linda Goodman; artist and previous curator of the Johannesburg Art Gallery Nel Erasmus; Pat Senior – the then curator of the Johannesburg Art Gallery and Marilyn Martin – the vice president of the SAAA - impacted on me as they taught me the worth of individualism in art. I learned too, from my wife who is a Geneticist, that no individual feels, senses or observes in the same way and that our perceptions in art are unique to each and every one of us. The excitement of the progression of ideas of these people inspired me and honed my senses even further as I continued my journey through the art world.

Seasons passed and the sun rose on a new form of life when I relocated to the little hamlet of Betty’s Bay, in the Western Cape, where I became immersed in the juxtapositions of natural beauty, and its frailty when subjected to the harsh impositions of mankind on the environment. Again a change of direction in my voyage, but what a ride it has all been.