Born Ballarat, Australia, 1881; died Johannesburg, 1953. Fern arrived in Johannesburg as a child in 1890, and was taught oil painting by a nun at End Street Convent. From 1899 to 1904 her parents lived in Port Elizabeth where she had art tuition at the Technical College. Returning to Johannesburg, she was then taught pastel drawing by George Smithard. As one of the first students at the Johannesburg School of Art, she became a foundation member of the JSC in 1916, and worked with Amshewitz. Like other women members of emergent art societies, she engaged herself in craftwork, making and selling items in leather, pewter and brass repousse. She combined this with giving art lessons at the Protea Studio in Market Street. From 1920 to 1922 she studied at the Slade School in London, and on her return travelled to Natal and to the Cape on sketching trips. She taught at the Wits Technical College Art School from 1926 to 1930. In 1933 she went to Paris, where she studied in the studio of Andre Lhote. His figurative variant of Cubism impacted on her painting style. Fern played an active role in the artistic life of Johannesburg for nearly 50 years, exhibiting her work with societies in the rest of SA, including SASA in Cape Town.

Exhibitor on SASA-reldted exhibitions c.1898 - 1950: 1924:SASA 23rd Annual Exh., Drill Hall, Darling St., 28 Jan. 1931: 1st Annual Exh. of Contemp. National Art, SAAG (SANG) with SASA, 7 Dec. - 31 Mar. 1932. 1936: SASA sect., with NA & indcp. artists, 6th Annual Exh. of Contemp. Art, SANG, 17 Dec. - 17 Feb. 1937.

Collections in the Archives