Musing for September: Things are not always what they seem…

by Kath Dawson

We very occasionally have to deal with "customers" offering fake credit cards; we even sometimes find out that works people want to offer for sale are not genuine but it’s a one-off that we get approached to list an artist who may not even exist!

A couple of months ago we received an application from someone to list "Helen Anne Petrie", a South African who appears to have lived in relative obscurity from 1932 until her death in 2006. There began a story which continues to unfold even as I write this. Shortly after we listed the artist we were contacted by The Times who were trying to determine the veracity of certain claims made by the lister in the biography that had been put forward for this artist. A number of articles have appeared in the major press casting significant doubt over the history that has been written for our Miss Petrie.

The artist seems to have burst onto the scene only very recently and what background information there is emanates from a very limited set of sources (perhaps even limited to a single individual). A google of Helen Anne Petrie yields plenty of results yet the pages which are returned either describe the alleged fraudulent sales perpetrated in promoting the artist using a false history or are simply versions on art sites (our very own included) of the questionable biography itself. Our own investigations have determined that while it would appear that Helen Anne Petrie did exist and may have been painted during her life, at least some of the claims which would lend weight to her having a profile worthy of serious collectors are definitely incorrect. Subsequent to the publication of the stories in the press we received scans of a number of documents by email, probably from the original lister (an elusive character to say the least), which show some basic school records and personal correspondence yet nothing to support the bold claims that her work has long been held in public and private collections around the world. The material resembled something that might have turned up in an old trunk purchased at a Sunday car boot sale.

To date we have been unable to find any independent and authoritative validation of the claims made for Miss Petrie as an artist. If anyone has anything to add then we would be fascinated to hear it. It does rather come back to the best advice we can give – buy your art because of its beauty and merit in its own right and not on the back of any collateral claims that cannot be verified.

- Mark Hayhurst

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We’re able to vouch 100% that the artists below exist! Here’s our latest pick of superb talent that you should check out:

"Empress close-up"
by Fiona Almeleh

Fiona’s works are always lively and bright and this embroidered piece is just stunning. The Empress – matriarch of the Tarot – resplendent with wisdom and knowledge.

Perhaps in a similar vein the works of Dulcie Robinson show an inner depth that brings a message with every piece. This wonderful acrylic shows the marriage of the ethnic and the ethereal.

"Circle of Life"
by Dulcie Robinson

"Leave tree"
by Carl Roberts

We’ve not featured too many sculptures recently but among the many talented sculptors on the site, Carl has a range of different pieces of varying sizes and budget. This tree-mendous wood sculpture is one great example.

Dodds can tun his hand to a variety of styles but some of his best and most popular at seascaps such as this one. A rich and colourful work in oil where you can smell the sea and feel the sand beneath your feet.

"Seal Point Beachbreak"
by Dodds Blom

"Northern Cape Mountain Scene"
by Dante Ruben

Dante is having an extended "blue period" and has produced some very appealing landscapes. This atmospheric mountain scene has good composition and depth and really draws you in.

Somewhat reminiscent of 1970s Vietnam-era pop art, this acrylic on board work is an intriguing piece. Theo has a number of different styles in his portfolio and each work has a message if you are prepared to listen.

"The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"
by Theo Kleynhans

" Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches. "
- Andy Warhol

New Artists

We have talented new artists coming on the site all the time and in recent weeks we have welcomed the following who have already listed a number of excellent works:

" There comes a point where you see it all as completely empty being a popular artist to the extent that people who are not necessarily interested in art know about things or take some little interest. I think that now for me it’s a burden. It’s a bit hard to deal with and it wastes time as well. "
- David Hockney

Tell us how we’re doing!

As ever we would welcome any feedback and comments you might have. Feel free to drop us a line ( ) with any comments or ideas you might have for promoting these superb artists even more widely. We also welcome art-themed submissions for our regular newsletters of short stories or anecdotes about art, your experiences, what inspired you or anything that you think may be of interest.

Yours in inspiration,

All the team at
The very best of South African art online

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