Battiss lived and worked at Giotto’s Hill in Menlo Park, Pretoria. He studied drawing and painting at the Witwatersrand Technical College, and in 1931/1932 he attended the Johannesburg Training College, earning his Teacher’s Diploma. In 1941 he graduated from UNISA with a BA (Fine Arts). In 1973 UNISA also awarded him an Hon D Litt et Phil for his creation of the imaginery Fook Island.
The screen print Guinea Fowl was made in about 1973/1974 when Battiss visited London-based master printer, Chris Betambeau. The work is typical of Battiss’s wry humour. He’d often title a work after a rather insignificant element or motif in the picture – the guinea fowl in this case – to draw attention to the disparate nature of the composition. He always took delight in the whimsical shapes and playful figures in the picture plane, reminiscent of a carnivalesque sense of the world.
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