Nellien Brewer
Nellien Brewer

Nellien Brewer is well known for her birds in various techniques, ranging from oil painting, etching, to her very unique, signature look, where she uses words to build an image.

“I am fascinated by complexity in nature. Life exists in contrast with the laws of physics which hold that systems inevitably break down to reduced complexity. The theory of evolution contrasts with the creation story accepted by most religions, and this paradox has been my conceptual focus since 2007.

From a religious point of view, the Bible says that ‘In the beginning was the Word’. The notion that the ‘beginning’ was something abstract like a thought (or words) seems to be confirmed by the fact that algorithms can be used to explain most systems or patterns in nature but cannot be written to describe abstract thought.

‘The Word’ has therefore become a metaphor for the intricate codes underlying all natural systems. In my work, I juxtapose both Biblical and secular philosophical writings against the patterns and systems of the natural world. Digital drawing facilitates a level of detail impossible to achieve by hand, and evokes the (often invisible) intricacies of natural systems. As the typing of each word is extremely time-consuming, I am only able to produce approximately 1 text work per year.”

Nellien was born in Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal, in 1961. She qualified as a Landscape Architect from the University of Pretoria in 1982, and spent the next 20 years in this profession, however, Fine Arts always remained her first love, and she enrolled for the BVA degree at UNISA which she completed in 2011.

In 2008 she was one of the ‘Top 15’ artists at the Ekurhuleni National Fine Arts Awards. The following year she received the ‘Art on Paper’ merit award at the 2009 Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards.

Since then, she has participated in a number of juried group exhibitions both nationally and internationally.

She employs a variety of media in her art making, and she started working extensively with text during 2007. Her work deals primarily with human worldviews and philosophies juxtaposed against natural complexity. For this reason, her work became increasingly computer-based, as this allows a level of detail impossible to achieve by hand. More recently she has started to explore traditional printmaking methods, and her work often consists of a combination of digital and traditional printing.



  • Print like a Girl Collaboration – Gallery 2, Turbine Art Fair
  • #PRINTLIKEAGIRL – The Art Room, Parkhurst
  • A Sense of Place – Museum, NAF, Grahamstown
  • Conceptual Animal– Art Well Gallery
  • Living Depth, Comprehension – Dyman Gallery, Stellenbosch
  • New Broom – Art Well Gallery
  • Fine Art Print Fair Pop-Up Show and Online exhibition
  • TPG exhibition – Trent Gallery, Pretoria


  • Indestructible – Trent Gallery, Pretoria
  • Art meets Africa – Re-Art Halle, Ihlienworth, Hamburg, Germany
  • Moments before Death – Artbox Gallery, Pretoria
  • Home – NAF Grahamstown
  • Step into their shoes – Johan van Heerden Art Gallery, Pretoria


  • Let there be Light – Artbox Gallery, Pretoria
  • Bruidskat/ Trousseau – Tina Skukan Gallery, Pretoria
  • Joburg Fringe 2017 – The Yards, Lorentzville, Johannesburg
  • Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards 2017, Ekurhuleni
  • Through a Lens – Group exhibition, Trent Gallery, Pretoria
  • From Classical to Modern Painters – Group exhibition, Brooklyn Gallery, Pretoria
  • Indigenous Diversity – Group exhibition, Artbox Gallery, Pretoria
  • SA Fine Art Print Fair – Group exhibition, Illovo, Johannesburg               


  • Plek/Place – Aardklop Festival, Potchefstroom
  • Joburg Fringe 2016 – Arts on Main, Johannesburg
  • Vision: An Artist’s Perspective, Kaleid Gallery, San Jose, USA – Judges Special Recognition
  • Search for Meaning Book Fair 2016 Art Exhibition, Seattle University, Seattle, USA
  • Aeipathy – Group exhibition, Equus Gallery, Cavalli Estate, Somerset West        


  • Search for Meaning Book Fair 2015 Art Exhibition, Seattle University, Seattle, USA
  • SASOL New Signatures Art Competition finalist, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria
  • Joburg Fringe 2015, Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg
  • Altered Realities – Group exhibition, Association of Arts, Pretoria
  • Vera World Fine Art Festival, Lisbon, Portugal


  • Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards 2014, Ekurhuleni
  • SASOL New Signatures Art Competition finalist, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria
  • Joburg Fringe 2014 – Arts on Main, Johannesburg
  • Fresh Produce – Group exhibition by Assemblage, Turbine Art Fair
  • Revealing Light – Light Revealed – Group exhibition, Tina Skukan Gallery, Pretoria
  • Shards – Multimedia goup exhibition, Tina Skukan Gallery, Pretoria


  • Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards 2013, Ekurhuleni  – Top 15 Artist
  • SASOL New Signatures Art Competition finalist, Pretoria Art Museum  
  • Diptych – Group Exhibition by Assemblage, Braamfontein
  • Digi Re-engineering – Group Exhibition Unisa Art Gallery
  • Me . Ek – Group Exhibition KKNK, Oudtshoorn
  • Artspace Jan Celliers Exhibition, Johannesburg
  • Ricochet: The space between – Tina Skukan Gallery, Pretoria


  • Me3 – Group Exhibition at Fried Contemporary Art Gallery, Pretoria
  • Freedom Exhibition , The table is laid – Group Exhibition at Snowflake Building, Potchefstroom during Aardklop Arts Festival


  • CIVA Biennial Conference Juried Exhibition, Biola University, Los Angeles, USA


  • SASOL New Signatures Art Competition finalist, Pretoria Art Museum – 2 works selected
  • Oppitafel – Group Exhibition, Artspace Warehouse, Johannesburg


  • Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Award 2009, Ekurhuleni – Art on Paper Merit Award      


  • Ekurhuleni National Fine Arts Award 2008 – Top 15 Artist
  • Intervention – Group Exhibition, Unisa Gallery, Pretoria



  • Unisa Permanent Collection
  • Ambassador of Argentina 2015
  • Ambassador of Israel 2014
  • World without Borders Foundation
  • Private collections – local and international

Nellien Brewer

Job 27-40

116 × 87 cm

Nellien Brewer

Weaver – Tugela

35 × 50 cm

Nellien Brewer

Swallow – Tugela

35 × 50 cm

Competition work


30 × 40 cm

Nellien Brewer

Bad Moon Rising 3

49 × 70 cm

Nellien Brewer

2830 DA Collessie

65,5 × 89 cm

Nellien Brewer


35 × 25 cm

Nellien Brewer

Nest – Pretoria: Drypoint

39 × 27 cm

Nellien Brewer


35 × 50 cm

Nellien Brewer


21 × 15 cm