‘Cecil Skotnes is known primarily for his woodcuts and incised painted panels. But throughout his career he has also worked in other media: pencil and chalk, watercolour, oil and acrylic. He gouged designs into plastered walls, calling this sgraffito, and very occasionally he worked in ceramic. He also made a considerable contribution to the art of tapestry.’ p54
‘A consistent characteristic of Skotnes’s art is its integrity, but its seriousness does not preclude humour and, not infrequently, playfulness. Sometimes, indeed, when in a jovial mood, he will create an entire collection of ‘fun works’ such as the cut-out classical gods and goddesses exhibited at the Totem Meneghelli Gallery, Johannesburg, in 1971. Time and again he participates in fun events for charity such as constructing a kite ‘to promote friendship among the children of the world’. He has designed and printed posters for theatrical productions or idealistic causes which were later sold for charity. He participates in group exhibitions in aid of charity and without exception donates his work. He regularly contributes to charity art auctions by making the required egg, plate, pot, chair, box or, in collaboration with his son, John, a telephone. He also gives works as fund raisers to combat cancer and for educational projects. His pieces invariably prove to be among the most desirable objects on sale.
‘He is always ready to contribute to a fun event or to take on a less serious commission. One of these was the tile he made in 1969 for a pharmaceutical company. The design clearly exposes the artist’s glee in his illustration of a stomach ulcer (he, after all, was free of the affliction). He happily co-operated when Vittorio Meneghelli asked several artists to design costume jewellery made from bones? He entered the pavement art competition held outside the Goodman Gallery in Hyde Park, Sandton, in 1972, winning second prize. And in 1979, on the occasion of a Fook Island picnic held in the Pretoria Art Museum in honour of King Ferd III (alias Walter Battiss), he made what he called The Mallet of Light and Creative Insight, and wrote a humorous citation which documented an apocryphal shared ancestry of the two artists.
‘He designed the stamps, issued on 31 May 1966, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Republic of South Africa. The first set he submitted was rejected because the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs considered the images to be too abstract, but even the stylised designs that were issued were to cause considerable controversy. The following year another stamp he designed was issued in the definitive series on 1 March. All these stamps still bore the legend ‘Republic of South Africa’ alternating with ‘Republiek van Suid-Afrika’. Skotnes suggested this be abbreviated to RSA, suitable for both official languages. In 1967 this convention was implemented and used ever since.’ pp 56-7
Harmsen, F. Artist resolute. In F. Harmsen (ed.). Cecil Skotnes. Cape Town: South African Breweries. 11-63.