Artist Bill Ainslie is born

Tuesday, 10 April 1934

William Stewart  (Bill) Ainslie, South African artist and founder of several art training projects, was born in Bedford, Eastern Cape as a descendent of an early British settler who had arrived in the Cape Colony in 1833. A successful and talented graphic artist and sculptor himself, he was keenly aware of the damage Apartheid inflicted on local art. To combat this Ainslie raised funds to buy a house and established the Johannesburg Art Foundation in 1982, where gardeners alongside women of leisure, and domestic workers as well as Sunday painters received tuition.

He was also instrumental in the founding of several other centres of art instruction, like the Federated Union of Black Arts (FUBA) in 1976; the Thupelo Art Project in 1985; and the Alexandra Art Centre in 1986, where he gave hope to many Black artists. Several of South Africa's eminent Black artists, like David Koloane, Durant Sihlali, Pat Mautloa, Dumile Feni and Ezrom Legae, received their training from him or at institutions initiated by him He participated in various art workshops in South Africa and internationally. Between 1964 and 1988 he held several exhibitions and received three Art SA Today awards. Ainslie was killed in a car accident in 1989.


• Sack, S. (1988). The Neglected Tradition, Johannesburg: Johannesburg Art Gallery,  p. 100.

Last updated : 09-Apr-2017

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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