Renowned artists of the Free State include Willem Pretorius and his quirky cow sculptures; Dahla Hulme and her brutish artworks using industrial farming implements; Michele Nigrini’s bold paintings of the mountains and valleys; and Motseokae Klas Thibeletsa’s vivid expressions of life in Thaba Nchu.

Did you know?

One of South Africa’s most famous artists, JH Pierneef, portrayed the rocky outcrops in the Eastern Free State in his painting ‘Koppie at Fouriesburg’.

Renowned artists of the Free State have depicted the rural landscapes of the interior in numerous ways – watercolours, sculpture, etchings, photography and words.

The first artists were of course the San people, and they left behind an enormous wealth of rock art in caves and dwellings that can be found all over the Free State. The conflicts between the Boers, Basotho, Batswana, Griqua and the British also inspired many artists across South Africa to put palette to canvas.

Bloemfontein artist and lecturer Jaco Spies has put together a serious of animations that examine the theme of ‘land is currency’ in the Free State. Dahla Hulme, who lives in Rosendal, makes eccentric sculptures out of old farming implements and animal skulls. Also inspired by the rural setting, artist Willem Pretorius creates quirky cow sculptures out of metal and junk.

Free State artists also include John Edgar, an architect based in Ladybrand who depicts the elegant lines of the koppies and plains in fetching watercolour. Richard Letsatsi Bollers (from the West Indies) shares his knowledge and love of the land by teaching up-and-coming Thaba Nchu artists how to express the landscape in individual ways.

One of the greatest artists in the Free State was ‘The Painting Priest’, Father Frans Claerhout, a self-taught artist who was inspired by the colours and light in the area surrounding Tweedespruit.

Artworks of the Free State have fuelled the imaginations of many of South Africa’s famous artists to express their appreciation of the territory and its history. Artist Willem Boshoff (whose family line is linked directly to the history of the concentration camps) created some hard-hitting visual narratives on the concentration camps. Photographer Santu Mofokeng continues to document the spirituality of the Free State in his 'Chasing Shadows' series of photographs. Zakes Mda, Antjie Krog and Sir Laurens van Der Post have all written about the Free State in their extensive works

Creative souls all over the country continue to be inspired by the limitless skies, changing landscapes and diverse cultures of the interior.

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