One of SA’s top artists, Bill McGill celebrates 80 years of Watercolours



This year marks a very special exhibition by one of SA’s leading artists as the year 2014 sees him celebrate his 80th birthday.

Born in Greytown on 16th May 1934, Bill has lived in Rustenburg since 1944 when the population was some 3600 souls, with mostly gravel roads and a population that relied not so much on the Rustenburg Platinum Mines, but the thriving farming community.

The tobacco and wheat farmers were mostly around the Kroondal area, the old tobacco barns and out buildings created an interest for Bill, who saw in them character and wonderful colours, which he as a young artist was able to capture in watercolours. As time went by his interest waned as cricket, hunting and fishing became more his way of life than painting. This all changed when he became a student at King Edward VII High School in Johannesburg, who boasted an art teacher called Tommy Mills, who was a product of the Royal School of Art in London. It was this wonderful teacher who finally instilled in him the love of watercolours which has remained with him to this day, and with 60 years of practice has made him into a leading South African watercolourist.

Further studies in this wonderful medium were done in Spain with another Royal School of Art product, by the name of Peter Lely, the grandson of Sir Peter Lely, the resident Royal Family’s portrait artist.

For this the occasion of his 80th birthday, the paintings have a distinct Cape flavour with pictures painted from old black and white photos dating back to the early 1900’s. To show his versatility, the exhibition includes a number of bird paintings, as well as some of his exquisite pencil drawings and wildlife studies, something for everyone.

These paintings are certainly investment pieces. Included in this exhibition will be his limited edition, consisting of 12 prints of unique and colourful characters and buildings from the Groot Marico when Bill started painting in 1989.

While Bill was in Groot Marico, the South African television program “Uit en Tuis” heard what he was doing and did their own show based on him.

Bill was also interviewed by two radio stations, Radio Heldenberg and Bosmans Station, about watercolour and his work in Groot Marico.

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