The Artist Vanishes

I’m over the moon that my literary crime novel, The Artist Vanishes, is finally out from Penguin Books South Africa.

It was a wonderful, tough novel to write, and I’m hoping that readers will enjoy spending time with the dark, prickly Sophie.


First Review

The first review is in from Paige Nick on The Good Book Appreciation Society on Facebook:

“I really loved this read and stayed up late last night to finish it.

The Artist Vanishes, by Terry Westby-Nunn is a very cleverly told literary mystery thriller, one of the best I’ve read. I got caught up in it, and thought about it when I put it down, scheming when I could get back to it.

The novel runs in two parallel threads, ‘then’ and ‘now’. ‘Then’ tells Sophie’s story, she starts out a struggling artist, who creates powerful pieces that prod society. After a massive grant from big pharma on a testicle project, Sophie hits the big time, until a project goes horribly wrong and she disappears without a trace, but with lots of suspects.

‘Now’ tells James’ story. A washed up alcoholic documentary film maker, who is driven to create a doccie about her life and disappearance.

It’s a mystery but with a twist, James takes the role of investigator, and the more he digs, the more secrets come out.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that, but to say that it’s a very cleverly told story, beautifully written, easy to read, and set in Cape Town, which made it even more enjoyable for me.

In the author’s note at the end she alludes to the manuscript being rescued out of a publisher’s slush pile, I’m glad it was. I also remember enjoying this author’s debut novel, The Sea of Wise Insects, which came out in 2011. So she’s one to watch for me.

I can give it five stars and a big recommend.”

Filmmaker & Writer

I’m fond of caramelised onions, thinking about the world and belly-laughs.

My independent documentaries and art shorts have screened at festivals in Durban, Edinburgh, Makhanda, Vancouver, Cape Town and Berlin. In 2011, my environmental short film, Custom, won the international “Letters from the Sky” climate change art-film competition. My debut novel, The Sea of Wise Insects, won the University of Johannesburg’s Prize for Best Creative Debut. 

Some of my interests are memory, the individual in society, animal and environmental rights, and the Anthropocene.

I’m currently lecturing and writing and filmmaking and walking and thinking and sleeping and laughing and healing and being.


As with my video work, I’m a versatile writer. I script copy for clients, pen poems, and write odd novels.

As I’m concerned about the Anthropocene, for my PhD in Creative Writing I looked at South African speculative fiction through an ecofeminist lens.

The Sea of Wise Insects

My debut novel, The Sea of Wise Insects, won the 2012 University of Johannesburg Creative Writing Prize – debut category.


Video Work


Art short

My 2011 film on the global environmental crisis.

Top Award:

Letters from the Sky – International Festival of Experimental Films on Climate Change.

Letters from Teddy


Screened at the Durban International Film Festival.

An intimate family portrait.

“In those times, in that society, it was a scandal…”

The Electrician

Art short

Poem by Tania Haberland (van Schalkwyk).

Visuals and editing by Terry Westby-Nunn.

A collaboration between Tania and Terry.

My impartial handbag


My handbag is an open mouth 
yawning, waiting to be fed with keys and money and lists.
The same things it spits out.
Sometimes it’s playful, burying my phone in a new crevice.
It talks – tells me to paint my nails, my lips, my face,
my personality.
I take it everywhere, this gobbling, nagging, heavy
much loved limb.