Hannelie Coetzee (b1971) is a Johannesburg-based visual artist. Coetzee leads a site responsive practice, often taking people on walkabouts in the city to help connect the dots of the society we live in. She believes her ‘open source’ practise will grow an audience that appreciates art whilst contributing to environmental awareness.

She received BTech degree in social documentary photography from the Vaal University for Technology (1990 – 1994). She followed it up with an Advanced Diploma in Fine Arts (Cum Laude) at The University of the Witwatersrand whilst working in the Wits Fine Arts Department (1996 – 1997). She studied Social Entrepreneurship at the Gordon Institute for Business Science (GIBS) on A Rand Merchant Bank Grant in 2013. Coetzee applies this knowledge regarding social systems change and sustainability to all future assignments in the arts sector.


Hannelie Coetzee sees herself as an ecological artist that studies the effects of man-made systems on the natural environment. “We need to re-learn the logic of nature in order to continue mindfully,” says Coetzee. She aims to go further by finding possible solutions through interacting with affected individuals, building a network useful to the issue at hand, and shedding some light on the problem by creating art.

With her most recent exhibition,  Watermense/Water people, the artist focused on the use and abuse of, and distribution of water. For this body of work, the artist walked along the natural streams crisscrossing throughout Johannesburg. In the process she interacted with the individuals and communities who were there in one way or another. She listened to their stories and photographed them and their surroundings. These images find form through engravings of portraits on discarded doors, stencils on found-maps, woodblocks (and prints) made from old scaffolding planks, amongst other mediums. Through recycling discarded doors from regenerated buildings in Johannesburg, Coetzee aims to urge viewers to rethink how mankind will live with limited natural resources well into the future. She sees even contaminated water as a resource which can be purified. Coetzee’s artworks become a vehicle outside and inside the gallery to expand this conversation around the de-romanticization of the urban landscape.


2016 - Watermens/Water People


2016 - Dilip Menon opens Watermense/Water People

2016 - Financial Mail