Panels for the 1820 Settlers monument, Grahamstown 1984

In October 1984 the Commemoration Committee of the 1820 Foundation mooted that, to mark the tenth anniversary of the working life of the Monument in Grahamstown, its somewhat bare interior should be embellished with works of art. Tapestries or paintings ranged along the walls of the Fountain Area were considered, but it was ultimately agreed that Cecil Skotnes should be commissioned to make sixteen large panels (later there were to be 24) featuring the Settlers’ arrival, living conditions and their contribution to the development of South Africa. Detailed historical realism, which some Council members favoured, was rejected. Instead the complex work, consisting of four vertical surfaces, each containing six panels, and mounted around a fountain, would ‘present, in bold symbolic manner, the dynamic nature of the British-speaking experience in Africa, from the settlement to their current involvement in the creation of a common society in which African and European elements will blend – as in Skotnes’s distinctive work’.

(Harmsen, F. Artist resolute. In Harmsen, F. (ed.). Cecil Skotnes. Cape Town: South African Breweries. 11–63. p52.)