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 Witwatersrand's 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...