(b. 1980, Cape Town)

I am addressing ‘identity’ in contemporary South Africa where we have too easily accepted the labels that apartheid and post apartheid have given us. I stake my claim to my lineage and through my work I am reclaiming our heritage as individual people with a history of our own.

Thania Petersen is a multi disciplinary artist whose discourses focus on photographic ‘self portraits’, installations and multi sensory based performance. A direct descendant of Tuan Guru  (an Indonesian Prince in the late 1700's brought to South Africa by the Dutch as a political exile), Petersen explores the universal themes of personal and historical identities by reconstructing herself in varies guises often invoking ‘what remain from our ancestors rituals and history in our lives today’.  From an intensely personal perspective as an Indonesian ‘Malay’ woman and mother, Petersen adopts a breath and diversity of theatrical personas – a mythological Queen, a  botanical Goddess to various personal reflections of her childhood growing up as a girl in a secular Muslim society. Her reference points include the history of African colonial imperialism, contemporary westernized consumer culture, her deeply personal Cape Malay heritage, and the legend and myths of Sufi Islamic religious ceremonies.

Having studied at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art in London from 2001-2003, Petersen trained in both Zimbabwe (2004) and a year later in South Korea (with renowned Korean ceramist Hwang Yea Sook), she subsequently participated in the South Korean Ceramic Bienalle that same year. From 2000-2007 Petersen remained the resident painter of props and costumes for the London based Yaa Asantewa Arts Group at the Notting Hill Gate Carnival, before settling back in Cape Town full time. In 2015 Thania has been featured with Brundyn+ at the Cape Town Art Fair and with the AVA at Johannesburg Art Fair. I AM ROYAL marked her first solo exhibition at the AVA Gallery in August this year. This year sees her partake in various exhibitions including Studio at the South African National Gallery and a highly anticipated first solo presentation at Everard Read, Cape Town.


BTEC Sculpture Central Saint Martin’s College of Art, London, UK

2003 -2004        
Studied under Sylvestor Mubayi, Harare, Zimbabwe

Studied under Hwang Yea Sook , Yeojoo, South Korea


Surface and Subtext, Everard Read Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town Art Fair, Everard Read Gallery Booth, South Africa

AVA Gallery booth, Johannesburg Art Fair, Sandton, South Africa
I AM ROYAL - Solo Exhibition, AVA Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
Brundyn+ Gallery booth, Cape Town Art Fair, Cape Town, South Africa

The 3rd World Ceramic Biennale, Ichon World Ceramic Center, Kyongg Province, Korea

Annual Group Exhibition, Central Saint Martin’s College of Art, London, UK

Carnival Group Exhibition, Tabernacle, Notting Hill Gate, London, UK


Yeojoo City Collection, South Korea


Carnival Costume Workshop, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK

Brett Seiler, ‘Thania Petersen in conversation with Brett Seiler’, Art Throb, September16, 2015 

Ashraf Jamal, “ Malay Barbie “ , Financial Mail , August 20 2015
Malibongwe Tylio , “ Artists we Love “ ,  VISI lifestyle online, August 6 ,2015
Debbie Loots, “ Seven spots to see art in Cape Town” , Mail and Guardian , 30 July 2015

Jeremy Fox, “ I.D. Parade : Me , myself and I “ , The Times , July 28 , 2015

Jamie Waddington, “ Skattie Celebrates Thania Petersen “ , ELLE July 24 , 2015