Walter Whall Battiss (January 6, 1906 – August 20, 1982) was a South African artist known mostly for his contribution to South African abstract art. Much of his style is inspired by primitive rock art, San paintings as well as cultural Ndebele beadwork, pre-Islamic culture and calligraphy. He formally trained at Wits University Technical College specialising in drawing and painting. He furthered his studies at the Johannesburg Training College for a Teacher’s diploma. By the age of 35 he had also acquired a BA Fine Arts degree from University of South Africa. He taught at Pretoria Boys High for most of the next 30 years. He was also the Principle at the Pretoria Art Centre from 1953-1958. In 1973 he was awarded D. Litt et Phil (honoris causa) from Unisa.

Battiss was born in Somerset East. He was a founding member of the ‘New Group’ of SA artists and was known as ‘The Bushman Painter’. In interest in archaeology and rock art remained one of his main influences throughout his life. In 1948 he ventured out into the Namib Desert where he lived among the Bushmen. He was inspired to create the fictional ‘Fook Island’ with Norman Catherine after a visit to the Seychelles in 1972. The island had its own ‘fooklore’, stamps, currency and publications. In 1980 Battiss designed 4 stamps for the Botswana postal service. The following year a museum was opened in his honour.
>> Walter Whall Battiss. 2014. Johans Borman Fine Art website:

In 1981 he donated all his work to the newly opened “Walter Battiss Museum” in his birthplace of Somerset East. Walter Battiss died in Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal of a heart attack on 20 August 1982.