Cecil Skotnes was born in East London in 1926. He studied drawing in Florence, Italy , as well as at Witwatersrand Technical Art School and the the University of the Witwatersrand, completing a BA in Fine Arts in 1950. During this time he met his wife, Thelma Carter and they were married in 1951. They moved to Europe where they stayed for 9 months.
In 1952 he was appointed cultural officer in charge of the influential Polly Street Art Centre. Skotnes wasalso a founder member of the Amadlozi Group in 1961.
Initially Cecil painted but was then encouraged by a friend, master goldsmith and art collector Egon Guenther to try woodcutting. This would turn out to be the perfect medium for him. His early woodcutswere of landscapes. His contrasting experiences of European and African landscapes drove him to develop a genre and style that was uniquely South African.
In the late 1970’s Cecil moved from the Highveld to Cape Town. At this time he made a series of landscapes influenced by the ocean. He also did landscapes from areas visited in earlier years.Through all his years Cecil Skotnes was well known as a teacher and mentor and not just an artist.
His lifelong mission was to nurture talent and encourage creativity, particularly in places where the apartheid government had deliberately excluded the possibility. Cecil wanted to create a place where he could train professionals and give talented young black adults a chance at a career in art.
Cecil Skotnes ‘s career was a rich and rewarding one from which many have benefitted. From hisstudents , family , young artists, friends and those who bought his paintings.
In 2003 he was awarded the Order of the Ikhamanga (Gold) by the South African government for his contribution to South African art.
He passed away in 2009.