Petra van Niekerk was born in Johannesburg, attended school in Pretoria, and studied teaching in Johannesburg, with art as one of her main subjects.
While teaching she continued to stay close to art by painting, illustrating books and doing murals for schools. She also continued to broaden her knowledge of art by attending classes with various artists such as Carlo Sdoya; making sure that she kept up to date with the latest techniques and styles. She also ensured that she went back to basics to apply her new knowledge by attending technique classes: for example etching classes at Wits.
Since early retirement set in she became a full time artist and focuses all her attention on her artworks, and has been selling her paintings both locally and internationally. The paintings by Petra van Niekerk are known for their vibrant, joyful colours depicting the simple pleasures of ordinary South Africans at work and at play.
“Each painting is an adventure, telling a story of everyday life in Southern Africa, I never know how my story is going to end, it is always a surprise! I often change the original drawing, deviating from the original. The subject of my paintings link directly to the intention she I have in mind; I want people to smile when they look at my paintings. We have enough hurt and sadness in life, a bit of joy cannot do harm! I have enormous respect for the woman in our country. They always keep their sense of humour. And they keep their dignity while working, selling flowers, picking fruit, collecting heather, all to keep things going at home, often the only income. Strong women!”
By depicting women in many of my paintings, going to work at their various chores, I show my respect for these women, putting them in energetic colours and a happy scene, as they should be.”