Fern played an active role in local art life and was a member of every Johannesburg art society during her life. She taught art privately and at the Witwatersrand Technical Art School from 1926 – 1928 and exhibited on group shows for 50 years from 1901. She died in 1953 in Johannesburg.
- 1901 Port Elizabeth, Tech Art School.
- 1904 Emily Fern studied art under GS Smithard in Johannesburg;
- 1913 Emily Fern studied at Johannesburg School of Art;
- 1920 – 1922 Slade School, London, under Henry Tonks and Wilson Steer; also etching under Frank Emanuel (Royal Drawing Art Teacher’s Certificate).
- 1933 – 1949 Emily Fern studied art under André Lhote, Paris.
Short Artist Biography
- 1889 Emily Fern brought to South Africa; parents were Rand Pioneers, father a mine-manager on Johannesburg mines.
- 1892 Emily Fern was taught oil-painting by a nun at End Street Convent.
- 1899 – 1904 Lived in Port Elizabeth during Anglo-Boer War; won medals at Art School.
- 1904 Emily Fern returned to Johannesburg and took lessons in pastel-drawing under GS Smithard.
- 1913 One of the first students at the first Johannesburg School of Art and first.
- Hon Secretary of Johannesburg School of Art Club.
- 1916 Foundation member of Johannesburg Sketch Club; Emily Fern studied further under JHG Amshewitz. During this period she conducted the Protea Studio in Market Street, Johannesburg, in partnership with Mrs EE Alport – they made and sold craft-work, including items in leather, pewter and brass-repoussé; also offered drawing and painting lessons.
- 1920 – 1922 Studied art at the Slade, London.
- 1922 Emily Fern returned to Johannesburg; joined the Friday Club which had replaced the defunct Sketch Club. Together with Mary Packer undertook sketching trips to Natal and the Cape.
- 1926 – 1930 Emily Fern taught at the Wits Tech College Art School, Johannesburg.
- 1933 Studied in Paris; exhibited on Salons de Paris et des Tuileries, returned to Johannesburg as a painter and teacher; member of all Johannesburg art societies and frequent exhibitor on shows of South African provincial art societies.
- 1949 Second trip to Paris.
- Emily Fern participated on group art exhibitions all over South Africa from 1901.
- 1925 First one-man exhibition, Johannesburg.
- 1920 – 1950 Represented on practically every annual South African Academy.
- 1936 Empire Exhibition, Johannesburg.
- 1952 Van Riebeeck Tercent Exhibition, Cape Town.
- 1965 Memorial Exhibition, Johannesburg.
Public Art collections
South African National Art Gallery, Cape Town; Ann Bryant Art Gallery, East London; Africana Museum, Johannesburg.