BY BILLY SUTER
TRIBUTES are pouring in on Facebook and elsewhere for popular Durban artist, stage designer and playwright Andrew Verster, who passed away peacefully on Sunday.
“It is with great sadness that we hear that Andrew Verster passed away. We have lost a treasure who did so much for the arts. Further details of a memorial will be posted later in the week,” writes Durban art doyenne Carol Brown on her Facebook page.
Born in 1937 in Johannesburg, Verster was a noted artist, a designer for theatre and a writer of short stories, articles and radio plays. He held more than 50 solo exhibitions, is represented in many major public and private collections, and has been awarded two retrospective exhibitions organised by the Durban Art Gallery.
He trained at the Camberwell School of Art and Reading University and lectured at the University of Durban-Westville (then University College, Durban) and Natal Technikon until 1976, when he gave up teaching to become a full-time painter.
Verster was the winner of the BBC World Service Playwriting Competition in 1992, with his work, You May Leave, The Show is Over. He was also commissioned by the BBC to write Future Past, featuring the voices of former South African actresses Janet Suzman, Rowena Copper and Estelle Kohler.
He designed the sets and costumes for Opera Africa’s Faust and Princess Magogo, as well La Traviata and Rigoletto, and designed also for the 2004 US production of Princess Magogo. Among his other theatre ventures were costume designs for the Barnyard Theatre’s 2004 production of The Rocky Horror Show and its 2006 production of Grease. He also designed costumes for a local production of Private Lives and the adult panto Sinderella.
Verster was a critic with The Daily News in Durban for 12 years and wrote a weekly column, From the Backwater, for four years. He was with the Film and Publication Review Board, and a trustee of the Durban Art Gallery, the Arts Work Trust, Very Special Arts, Artists for Human Rights Trust and the African Art Centre.
He had numerous public and private commissions, including sculpture and tapestry for the Reserve Bank Durban, art works at the Durban Hilton, and a tapestry in the ICC Durban.
Durban arts all-rounder Caroline Smart wrote: “A tribute will follow shortly and further details of a memorial will be posted later in the week. Treasure Andrew’s works if you are fortunate to have any.”
Durban artist Marianne Meijer labelled Verster as “the artist friend who guided many to increase their knowledge of what fine art really was about”.
Artist Sue Greenberg said: “Such sad news. Andrew will be remembered as one of Durban’s best artists as well a great friend to so many. RIP Andrew.”