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Paul Stopforth was born in Johannesburg in 1945 At the age of 19 he went to the Johannesburg School of Art and studied there for three years until 1967 His artistic personality was shaped during a period of growing social consciousness in South African art But whereas his senior colleagues references to local circumstances were often circumspect and inexplicit Stopforth voiced the conscience of a younger generation and a new decade His tone was anguished and accusatory his meanings undisguised and challenging After graduating from the Johannesburg School of Art in 1967 Stopforth spent most of the next 10 years in Durban From 1968 to 1975 he lectured in Fine Art at Natal Technical College For one year in 1976 he became a part-time lecturer in Architecture at the University of Natal It was in this city that he first captured critical interest with an award-winning mixed-media entry to the 1971 Art - South Africa Today exhibition from the Institute of Race Relations In 1977 suffering from what Stopforth described as English colonial cultural asphyxiation he returned to Johannesburg to join the staff at the University of Witwatersrands Fine Arts Department and shortly after was appointed the position of Senior Tutor Fine Arts It was no more than a few months since the shattering events that had inflamed Soweto and concerned members of the Johannesburg community were still reeling in the aftermath Stopforth immediately identified himself with the multicultural initiatives of the Market Theatre Organisation and before long he was actively engaged along with Wolf Weinek and Michael Goldberg in founding a permanent alternative exhibition venue in the complex - the Market Gallery of which he became the first director In 1984 Stopforth won the British Council Scholarship to study in England for a year at the Royal College of Art in London He received a Short Course Certificate from the College in 1985 as well as the Rodney Burn Award
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