Lionel Davis, a South African artist, was born in District Six, Cape Town on 21 June 1936. Davis became a political prisoner on Robben Island between 1964 and 1971, where he completed his Senior Certificate.
After his release from Robben Island he was restricted under a banning order and house arrest until 1976. In 1978 Davis joined the Cape Arts Project (CAP). The main objective of the CAP was to educate and empower South Africans of all races by introducing them to art, theatre and dance. Davis took his first formal art classes with CAP, and continued his art education with the organization for two full years. He then spent another two years at the Evangelical Arts and Crafts Centre at Rorke's Drift in Natal. Davis completed his studies in 1981.
He has contributed to literary magazines, books on education, poetry anthologies and calendars. His two years at Rorke's Drift earned him a degree in Fine Arts and qualified him to return to the Community Arts Project in Cape Town as a teacher.
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