James Vicary Thackwray (1919-1994)

Artwork by James Vicary Thackwray

Thackwray was a painter of landscapes, seascapes and portraits, still life and abstract pictures. He worked in oil, acrylic, watercolour and charcoal. He was also a graphic artist producing monotypes.  He is known for his paintings of rural people of the Cape in their environment. He studied in 1937 extra-mural classes at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, under Professor Edward Roworth and Melvin Simmers as well as studied life drawing under Maurice van Essche and Alfred krenz. Exhibitions 1948 Ashbey Galleries, Cape Town, first of 10 solo exhibitions held in S.A, he participated in numerous group exhibitions from 1952 in S.A.  Represented Willem Annandale Gallery, Lichtenburg.

James has held over fifteen one man shows in Cape Town, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Pretoria and Johannesburg as well as several group shows.  Several of his shows were real flops mainly I think because of the subject matter – for some reason or other that paintings of the peoples of the rural Cape areas did not go down well –sometimes he noticed people walk in and walked out of the gallery where he exhibited.

Strangely in some of those major towns my work has been selling well now, but it has taken a long time. Now that his family is all married, his wife and himself have moved to Riebeeck West for this area offers me tremendous scope for my work – yellow wheat fields – hill after hill covered with vines and mountain ranges as far as the eye can see – truly a haven for painting for any artist.

While he has done many things in order to provide the necessary for the pursuit of his own art these things were only a means to an end for my driving passion to paint his country – my people and to achieve an essentially South African character in his work.”