Thijs Nel

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(1943-) Artist, journalist, writer and playwright.


Born in Ellisras, in the district of the Waterberg, and matriculated at the Hoër Landbouskool Merensky, an agriculatural college in Tzaneen.

Education and training

After completing his military service for a year after school, he decided to study drama, but was dissuaded by his father. He was then appointed as a journalist at Die Vaderland, where he stayed for a year, before completing a BA in Fine Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand.


Career as an arts journalist

In 1955 he once again joined Die Vaderland as art editor and remained there for 5 years, apart from a short break to go oversees to start a singing career.

Career as an artist

During the late sixties Thijs left South Africa for a second time for India and Europe and ended up in Paris where he worked and continued his studies between 1970 and 1975. In this time he was also resident at the famous Cité Internationale-des-Arts in Paris (for two years), completing murals at Bois d’Arcy and Neuilly-sur-Marne, studied lithography with Henri Deprest and Jean-Paul Pons, and for the next two years shared a studio with opera director and designer Jean-Yves Taverniér, gaining valuable experience in working with light effects.

He returned to South Africa to set himself up as a professional artist, eventually settling in Oudtshoorn in 1997. Over the years he has gained international renown, having held over 40 exhibitions worldwide, with his work represented in private and public collections in France, Great Britain, USA, Holland, Israel, Japan, Ethiopia, South Africa and China.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

He has written various short stories, plays and anthologies.

As designer

He designed the décor for the PACOFS production of Don Pasquale

As playwright

Fleur de lys (1985), Performed at Kampustoneel by the Drama Department of the Potchefstroom Universiteit vir CHO in 1985.

Fluit vir die Vlieë (“Whistle for the flies”) was first performed at Kampustoneel in 1986 by the Drama Department of the Potchefstroom Universiteit vir CHO, then put on professionally by PACT in 1987, with Sandra Prinsloo en Ben Kruger, directed by Ilse van Hemert.

In memoriam patris (1988)

Brief van die Harlekyn ("Letter from the harlequin"), performed as a one-man show by Paul Eilers, at the KKNK of 2007.

Awards, etc


PACT Info, (2), 1992.

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