Mollie Townsend exhibits 70 years of work

A Kalahari scene.

In an unusual move, local artist Mollie Townsend, who turns 97 in October, is exhibiting a collection of paintings and sketches on an “ONO” (or nearest offer) basis.

Her work spans a career of 70 years and can be viewed where she lives: at The St James Retirement Hotel.

The collection, From the Kalahari to Cape Town, offers a brief glimpse of people she has met and places she has been.

“It is also a spiritual quest through the medium of painting. A seascape is not just the physical aspect of water, sky, sand and objects,” Ms Townsend said.

“It holds also the meditations of the artist about the secret life of the sea, the unknown beyond the horizon, the hidden thoughts of people once in this place, now gone, the inexorable passage of time and weather.”

Mollie (Mary Stewart) Townsend was born in South Africa and lived in Zambia and Botswana before returning to Cape Town. The exhibition is of works that record images from her life between 1970 and 2014.

The paintings cover the people, places, moral and political commentary of these years, and lots of symbolism.

Ms Townsend designed postage stamps for Botswana and wrote a book on the 19th century Scottish painter and engraver, James Stewart.

She has also published a book, Light in False Bay, featuring her many renderings of life and the scenery of False Bay.

Ms Townsend has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Europe and South Africa and won an award for an etching exhibit in Italy in 1980. Supposedly “retired” at The St James, she continues to paint and create.

Why host the exhibition on a “Or Nearest Offer” basis?

“I would like the works I currently have in my storeroom to be seen, shared and enjoyed, and so I am opting to consider offers from anyone who would like to own one of my works,” she said.

The exhibition runs until Tuesday August 28 at The St James Retirement Hotel, 66 Main Road, St James.

Entry is preferably by prior appointment and Ms Townsend, or a knowledgeable assistant, will walk you through the exhibition. Alternatively enquire at The St James reception.

For more information, Ms Townsend can be contacted at 021 709 0708 or on email at: or through Linda Beatty at 021 785 2058 or

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