Stephen Townley Bassett

Artist & Author

Documenting rock art as authentically as possible meant using only the tools and materials that would have been available to early cave artists. This required one to try to think as they would have thought. I would need to discard the tools I was using like pocket-knives, spatulas, plastic and metal containers and commercially available brushes and begin a kind of experimental archaeology using only materials I could find in the veld.

Stephen Townley Bassett
Stephen Townley Bassett

Stephen Townley Bassett was born in Cape Town. He completed his secondary education at Rondebosch Boys’ High School and graduated from UCT with a Bachelor of Social Science degree. In 1988 Stephen gave up his full-time career in the corporate world and pursued a career in painting.

Today he is a specialist in the field of Southern African rock paintings. His primary interests lie in the accurate full colour documentation of the art as well as research into pigments, paints and implements used by early hunter-gatherers of the region.

He consults with landowners on the conservation and management of sites too. Stephen has become increasingly well known for oil studies too. His time in the Eastern Cape, living on a working sheep and cattle farm, as well as his specialist abilities in the accurate documentation of rock paintings has allowed him explore his oil paintings with similar accuracy. Stephen has held exhibitions both locally and overseas and has been commissioned by organizations such as Caltex Oil Company SA, Rooibos Tea Ltd, Clanwilliam and Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve. In 2009 the South African Department of Arts and Culture purchased two of Stephen’s works as gifts for two foreign countries.

His artworks hang in private collections, such as those of the Oppenheimer, Ward, Barlow and Fleming families. His latest genre of work is called Dreamlines and pathways through the African Landscape . His Dreamlines allow him self expression, in a manner different to his rock art documentary works.

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