"...Bearded Seals and Fifteen Geese",




Cecil Skotnes has earned a reputation for his steadfast struggle against apartheid in South Africa. He is also of Norwegian decent. In cooperation with NORAD and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria Foundation 3,14 hosts a Norwegian tour of his works which opened in Bergen in August 2001.

"....Bearded Seals and Fifteen Geese" can be seen in Tromsø Kunstforening from Sep. 21 to Oct. 14th 2001. Dates in Oslo will be announced later.


Cecil Skotnes was born in East London in 1926. After studying drawing under Heinrich Steiner in Florence he enrolled at the Witwatersrand Technical Art School and from 1947 to 1950 studied at the University of the Witwatersrand where his teachers included Willem Hendrikz, Douglas Portway and Charles Argent. In 1952 he was appointed cultural officer in charge of the Polly Street Art Centre, the institution virtually synonymous with Skotnes and which was particularly influential in the development of an urban black art.

From the mid-1950s onwards, with the encouragement of Egon Guenther, at whose gallery Skotnes held his first major exhibition of prints, he concentrated increasingly on printmaking, and more specifically on woodcuts. From 1961 onwards Skotnes transformed the woodblock itself into an independent art form. The block, cut and incised and coloured, was presented as the work of art.






The Amadlozi Group was formed in 1961 and the members comprised Skotnes, Guiseppe Cattaneo, Cecily Sash, Sydney Kumalo and Edoardo Villa - the name chosen by Skotnes means "Spirit of our Ancestors". Works by members of this group manifested an essentially African influence. In 1965 Skotnes was invited to exhibit at the Grosvenor Gallery in London and since then has exhibited extensively at international venues. His first portfolio of colour woodcuts, published in 1970, while still a member of the Amadlozi Group, has been followed by numerous portfolios and in these Skotnes´ collaboration with the poet, Stephen Gray, has been particularly successful. Skotnes moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town in 1979, where he still resides.

Apart from the graphics and the painted and incised wood panels, Skotnes has produced murals, designs for tapestries, oil paintings on canvas and drawings in a variety of media. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and honours and mention should be made of the Gold Medal at the Graphica Biennale, Florence, 1970, the Medal of Honour of the SA Akademie in 1976 and medals from the Grahamstown Festival of Arts. His achievements as an artist and educator have been recognised by the awards of Doctor of Fine Art, Masters of Art from the University of Cape Town, from the University of Cape Town, Honors Causa from the University of the Witwatersrand and from Rhodes University.