Willie Schlechter was born in Joubertina in 1982 and matriculated from the Lady Grey Arts Academy. He received a BA FA (fine art) degree in 2004, and an MPhil VA (illustration) degree in 2008 from the University of Stellenbosch. During his Masters’ studies, he was introduced to botanical art by Vicky Thomas and has since been working mainly within this genre.
Willie taught Art and Design at Stellenberg High School in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town from 2008 to 2016. During this time he often participated in group-exhibitions locally and internationally. Awards received during this period include a silver medal in 2010 at Botalia, Painted Flora in Lucca, Italy; a bronze medal in 2010 and 2013 respectively at the Kirstenbosch Biennale; and a merit award at the 21st World Orchid Conference in Pretoria.
In 2017 Willie started working as a full-time artist and took part in numerous group exhibitions, most notably Bosch in Africa, a two-yearlong travelling group exhibition curated by Sandra Hanekom, launched at Woordfees, Stellenbosch in March 2017; Natural Selection, a group show curated by Jeanne-Mare du Bois for the KKNK in April; and Wildflowers and Pollinators, a group exhibition curated by Mary van Blommestein at the Irma Stern Museum (May – June 2017). The highlight of the year, however, was being a Top 40 finalist in the Sanlam Portrait Awards, held at Rust and Vrede Gallery in Durbanville.
One of Willie’s paintings is presently displayed in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Society’s 2018 calendar, and many of his works are digitally printed onto textiles, wallpaper, ceramics, and sold as limited edition prints.
Willie lives in Brackenfell, and often presents watercolour workshops from his home studio and the Irma Stern Museum in Cape Town.