In the charming little town of Graaff Reinet, nestled in the heart of the Eastern Cape, Verna du Toit was born with a wondrous spirit that imbued her with a sense of awe for the world around her. She found inspiration in the marvels of nature, igniting her imaginative soul and sparking a natural talent for the arts that her creative mother recognized and nurtured. Verna’s passion for art continued to grow, and at the age of 16, she pursued her formal training in art at the Institute of Arts at Russell Road College. Her dedication and talent led to her receiving the Rector’s Medallion as the Best Student in Art and Design in 1997.
Following her studies, Verna began her career as an assistant decorative painter and designer for Rica Gallerelli, and by 2000, she had assumed the role of a sales and picture consultant at Keith Johns Art Gallery in Port Elizabeth. It was here, among awe-inspiring artworks, that she discovered her true calling to become a full-time artist.
For several years, Verna poured her heart and soul into every pencil line and brushstroke, dedicating herself entirely to commissions. However, it was destiny that intervened when an art collector and dealer, Neil Dorward, discovered one of her wildlife oil paintings adorning the walls of a popular bar lounge in Port Elizabeth. He was captivated by her talent and commissioned her to create a series of wildlife paintings, which he subsequently shipped to the United States.
In 2003, Verna took a leap of faith and relocated to Cape Town, where she held her very first solo exhibition at 38 Special Gallery. As a young artist, she primarily focused on decorative work, infusing her paintings with rich African themes that resonated with audiences both locally and abroad. Her portraiture and African themes were highly realistic, capturing the beauty and complexity of the human form, which caught the eye of a German art collector and gallery owner named Joachim Spelling, who invited her to showcase her work in a solo exhibition in his hometown of “Furth im Wald, Germany” in 2009.
As Verna continued to grow and evolve as an artist, her passion for surrealism and symbolism began to blossom, and by the end of 2009, after relocating back to Port Elizabeth, she made the courageous decision to break away from the commercial art world and pursue her heart’s truest desire. Her true passion lay in creating works that were layered with meaning and symbolism, each element carefully chosen to convey a specific message or emotion. Her works often featured intricate details and hidden symbols, inviting the viewer to look closer and discover the deeper meaning behind the piece.
Over time, Verna experimented with various techniques and mediums, such as oil paint, acrylics, mixed media sculpture, and digital art. With digital art, she uncovered a vast realm of opportunities, overflowing with boundless potential that consistently amazes and motivates her. Today, Verna resides on Eden farm at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains in the Western Cape of South Africa. Surrounded by the natural beauty of her homeland, she continues to explore and evolve in her creativity, expressing herself through various forms of art.
Verna’s fervent love for narrating stories through art propelled her to establish Collaborative Art Creations (C-ART-C) alongside her partner, Laresa Perlman. C-ART-C serves as an online gallery, exhibiting not only Verna and Laresa’s distinct art pieces but also their collaborative creations. Moreover, the platform serves as a hub for local artists whose work Verna and Laresa admire, giving them an opportunity to display their work.
Reflecting on her journey as an artist, Verna says, “Art has been the very essence of my existence – the sustenance that feeds my soul, the balm that soothes my innermost being, the companion that keeps me company in my solitude, and my loyal confidant who listens with an attentive ear. My heart beats in rhythm with the process of creation, irrespective of the medium or form it takes. My relentless pursuit of excellence knows no bounds, and I am willing to demonstrate boundless patience in order to craft my creations into the fullest expression of their intended story.”
She adds, “Looking back on my journey as an artist, I can see how each artwork is a microcosm of my life, a snapshot of my evolution as a human being. Every layer, every detail, is a reflection of my innermost self, a glimpse into the depths of my consciousness and the mysteries of my soul.
My art is not just a collection of works, but a diary of my existence, a record of my struggles, my triumphs, my joys, and my sorrows. It is the language of my heart, the music of my soul, and the legacy that I will leave behind for future generations to discover.”
Russell Road College, Port Elizabeth
January 1993 – June 1996
National Certificate Art & Design N6
Rectors Medallion for the best Student in Art & Design N6
History of Art, Art of Drawing, Textile Design, Graphic Processes
2003: Group exhibition, La Jolla Art Association, California
First solo exhibition, 38 Special Gallery, Cape Town
2004: Group exhibition, Vineyard Gallery, Cape Town
2005: Group exhibition, Hout Bay Gallery, Cape Town
2006: Group exhibition, The Lisa King Gallery, Cape Town
2007: Group exhibition, The Lisa King Gallery, Cape Town
2008: Group exhibition, The Lisa King Gallery, Cape Town
Group exhibition, Art Space Africa, Germany
2009: Group exhibition, The Lisa King Gallery, Cape Town
Solo exhibition, Kunst, Musik & Knodel, Germany
Group exhibition, US Art Gallery, Stellenbosch
2010: Group exhibition, The Lisa King Gallery, Cape Town
2011: Group exhibitions, Artec, Port Elizabeth
2013: Group exhibition, Absa KKNK, Oudtshoorn
2015: Group exhibition, Committee’s Choice, Art B Gallery, Bellville, Cape Town
2016: Group exhibition, The Framed Feather and Art shopper, Cape Town
2017: Group Exhibition at the Woordfees in Stellenbosch, Titled ‘Bosch in Africa’, curated by Sandra Hanekom.
Group exhibition by ‘Clare, Theo, Johann and Friends’ at Art B, Bellville, Cape Town
Group exhibition at UJ Gallery in Johannesburg, Titled ‘Rethinking Kakotopia’, curated by Derek Zietsman
2018: Group exhibition, Tiny Treasures, Art B Gallery, Bellville, Cape Town
Group exhibition titled ‘Flight’, Art B Gallery, Bellville, Cape Town
Group exhibition titled, ‘This is not an exhibition’ curated by Avril Gardiner, Liebrecht Art Gallery
Group exhibition titled ’See Art: Contemporary drawing’, curated by Derek Zietsman, Gallery 2, Parkwood, Johannesburg
2019: Group exhibition titled, CHUI-TA-KA-MA, curated by Anna Liebenberg, Johann van Heerden’s Art Gallery, Garsfontein, Johannesburg.
Group exhibition titled, ‘Creating Conversations, Marvol Gallery, Hazendal Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.
2020: Group exhibition titled, ‘ Rites of Passage, curated by Lloyd Pollak, Gallery One11, Loop street, Cape Town.
2021: Online group exhibition titled ‘Sweet little Nothings’, curated by Christiaan Diedericks, hosted by People and Paintings Gallery
2022: Group exhibition titled ”Ukubalisa/Narrative Art” hosted by Gallery One11, Loop Street, Cape Town.
2022: Collaborative art exhibition, with Laresa Perlman at the Montagu Country Hotel gallery
MEDIA AND PUBLICATIONS
Article in DE KAT March/April 2017 edition
Article in THE ART TIMES, February 2020 edition