Sonja Engelbrecht was born in Cape Town in 1964, and twenty years later she qualified as a teacher in Oudtshoorn. She subsequently obtained a Higher Diploma in Education (Art) at Cape Town Teachers College, where she was awarded the prize for the Best Drawing Student. Sonja has taught on and off ever since at various academic institutions in the Cape, before and after getting married and having children.
Aside from art, Sonja is a ceramicist who instigated the Kid’s Clay pottery classes, and she also writes poetry and is a published author. Sonja expresses her passion for life through creative writing, sculpting and painting and much of her work is of images from her dream world, often featuring birds and fish as symbols of God’s blessing and provision. She is inspired by Marc Chagall and her favourite poet Breyten Breytenbach.
In May 2015, Gallery 91 in Somerset West held a major show of Sonja’s work entitled ‘New Beginnings’ referring to her painting lessons in 2014 with Hennie Niemann Snr, who encouraged Sonja to study the works of masters such as Gregoire Boonzaier and Irma Stern. Sonja still studies under Hennie and is mentioned as one of his students in the new hardback book published on the artist and his work. He has become a valued friend and mentor.
Sonja has since had two more solo exhibitions, including the most recent at the Niemann Snr Gallery in Vermont, Onrus.