Ariana van Heerden


Ariana van Heerden lives and works in Pretoria, South Africa.

Ariana was born in Zimbabwe (erstwhile Rhodesia) in 1956. As a child she was exposed to a variety of cultures and countries, hatching a curiosity for the unknown and a taste for exploration, which became integral to her life.

Van Heerden was schooled in Cape Town and Pretoria, where she matriculated in 1972. She studied drawing under Bill Ainslie before attending the University of South Africa, Technikon Pretoria and Tshwane University of Technology. She completed the National Diploma: Art and Design in 1977, and worked as a graphic designer, book illustrator and professional photographer whilst completing the National Higher Diploma: Textile Design (cum laude) in 1984. She started lecturing part-time in 1981, whilst managing a design and silk-screen studio for 13 years. Design requirements included accessories; apparel; designs and products for displays, events and interiors; jewelry; paper products; technical drawings for classified artifacts; as well as textile designs for print, knit and weave. Her client base for design products and services included large industries as well as private individuals, and her design products were represented at more than 50 exhibitions both nationally as well as internationally during that period.

Van Heerden encourages the application of skills and research towards entrepreneurship and has been instrumental in the establishment of various micro-enterprises of design, training and product development. She has driven community service projects over the years to promote South African artists and crafters locally and internationally - exhibitions which she curated, have been held in South Africa, Canada, Portugal and Spain.

She travels extensively and is particularly drawn to vast, open spaces. Yet she finds the mysterious density of the tropics and the African bush, as well as the isolation of islands equally fascinating. By roaming, she often encounters wilderness where nature has not yet been totally colonized and controlled by man. Such unique enclaves and often-transient frontiers are her clues to the intriguing web of life, and serve as a major source for her painting reference material.

Such wild frontiers are not confined to land – indeed, the ocean formed an integral part of her growing consciousness as a child whilst living in Angola, when travelling by ship to South Africa was the order of the day. Early memories of the ocean as well as harbours, reefs and undulating coastlines are etched deeply. Later, as a teenager in Mozambique and Brazil, recreational sailing was a regular activity, further strengthening her bond with nature. Beach camping as a child under vast, dark skies also spurned a curiosity in practical astronomy, further feeding into her appreciation of the fascinating cosmos.

  • andre van vuuren_1
  • andre van vuuren_2



Van Heerden roams and explores constantly. Places where she has found inspiration include Alaska, Angola, Antarctica, Argentina, Austria, Botswana, Brazil, and Britain. Canada, China, Comoros, Croatia, Cuba, France, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Israel, Italy, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Portugal, Seychelles, Spain, Taiwan, Zimbabwe


Ariana van Heerden is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at Tshwane University of Technology (previously Technikon Pretoria), in Pretoria, South Africa, where her specialties are undergraduate Business Practice and Research Methodology, as well as postgraduate research supervision. She is researching a Ph.D. topic entitled The flow brain state of painting and drawing subjects: a neuro-aesthetic experience, in which the correlation between perceived propensity for optimal experience, experimental data from actual brain activity and brain pleasuring through art making activity are investigated. Her Master’s dissertation entitled Overcoming capability deprivation through craft technology transfer, completed April 2005 (cum laude) investigated and addressed issues pertaining to poverty and skills training in rural areas of South Africa.

From 1994 - 2007 Van Heerden was Head of Textile Design at Technikon Pretoria and Tshwane University where she served on the Senate, Faculty of Arts Executive Committee, the Faculty of Arts Research Committee and the Faculty of Arts Board. To date she has been study leader and/or examiner to over 100 B Tech/Honours graduates, 15 Master’s research candidates and 1 Doctoral candidate. She serves as external examiner to various universities within and beyond South Africa's borders, and has received awards for innovation, dedication and excellence for service within the academe.


Van Heerden uses elements of nature as metaphors of consciousness, often creating a tension between abstraction and reality. Dynamical systems in transition and constantly shifting horizons particularly fascinate her. Examples of this fascinating process are storm clouds gathering and being spent; waves forming and dissipating; water undergoing change to become ice, or melting back to water again; or wind and water shaping and dissolving sand formations to create new landscapes constantly. Van Heerden's favourite media include mixed media, oils on canvas, as well as chalk pastels and charcoal on paper. Van Heerden has exhibited paintings and drawings since 1975, and her work is held in private collections both nationally as well as internationally.


Solo Exhibitions

2004                 The Dynamical: surf, Pretoria Art Museum

2003                 ‘turbulence & transience’, Tina Skukan Gallery, Pretoria

1989                 Potchefstroom Museum of Art

1983                 Beuster-Skolimowski Gallery, Pretoria

Joint Exhibitions

1996                 Ariana van Heerden & Andre Cronje, Pretoria Art Museum, East Gallery

Group Exhibitions

2009                 ‘Art Alive’, Waterkloof House Preparatory School, Pretoria

2007                 16 artists, Karoo Art House, Pretoria

2005                 'Especial XXXI Aniversario', Galeria Sala Barna, Barcelona, Spain

2003                 ‘Art Alive’, Waterkloof House Preparatory School, Pretoria

2002                 'Art Alive’, Waterkloof House Preparatory School, Pretoria

2000                 Group Show, Kresge Art Center, Michigan State University, Lansig, USA

1999                 ’Leonardo Posted’, Arts Association, Pretoria

‘Leonardo Posted’, ABSA Bank Gallery, Johannesburg

‘Art Alive’, Waterkloof House Preparatory School, Pretoria

1998                 ‘Art Show’ Faculty Exhibition, African Window, Pretoria

1996                 ‘Art Alive’, Waterkloof House Preparatory School, Pretoria

1995                 ‘Art Alive’, Waterkloof House Preparatory School, Pretoria

‘Art Technikon Pretoria’, Schweikerdt Art Gallery, Pretoria

Arts Faculty Group Show, Pietersburg City Council        

1994                 Fine Arts Awards/Exhibition, Kempton Park City Council

‘Art Alive’, Waterkloof House Preparatory School, Pretoria

‘8 Artists’, Pretoria Art Museum East Gallery

1993                 ‘Art Alive’, Waterkloof House Preparatory School, Pretoria

Botanical Institute Exhibition, Welchich House, Botanical Gardens, Pretoria

1992                 UNISA student Exhibition, Pretoria

‘Art Alive’, Waterkloof House Preparatory School, Pretoria

1987                 Retrospective Lecturers’ Exhibition, Museum of Art, Pretoria

1978                 25th Anniversary Exhibition Ex-students, Technikon Pretoria

1977                 UNISA student exhibition

1975                 Student Exhibition, Pretoria College for Advanced Technical Education


1994                 Certificate of Merit, Fine Arts Awards/Exhibition, Kempton Park City Council.

1981                 J.P.van der Walt Award for exceptional book illustrations.


Articles in newspapers/ television/ radio interviews

  • Badenhorst, R. 2004. Kunskafee: Kyknet TV documentary, 29 & 31 August & 1 September
  • Staden-Garbett, M. 2004. "Deep thoughts afloat deep waters". Pretoria News, 7 September
  • Coulson, M. 2003. ‘Art’. Financial Mail, 21 March
  • Grobler. D. 2003. “Van Heerden skep Zentuin vir die oog”. Beeld, 20 March
  • De Kok, L. 2003 “turbulence & transience”, Radio Jacaranda, 12 March
  • Staden-Garbett, M. 2003. “In search of paradise”. Pretoria News, 11 March
  • Ndlovu, L. 2000. “It’s your business”. Summit TV, October
  • Anonymous, 1989. “Tekstielontwerper stal op Potch uit”. Potchefstroom Herald/Herout, 14 April
  • De Beer, D. 1988. “Sisters with a flair for fashion, fabric and design”, Pretoria News, March 30
  • Phillips, F. 1983. “Kwaliteit red die werk”, Beeld, 6 April
  • Roelofse,E. 1983. “Syskermwerk by Beuster te sien”. Die Transvaler, 28 Maart
  • Van Rooyen, J. 1983. “Subtelty, humour and depth in silkscreens”. Pretoria News, March 30
  • Le Roux, L. 1981. “Vir haar brood en botter bly sy tuis”. Oggendblad, 28 Augustus.