BY BILLY SUTER
TODAY marked a very sad day for the South African art world when Durban doyenne, artist and art columnist Marianne Meijer died peacefully at home after a period of ill health. She was 85.
Tributes poured in on social media for this stalwart of the KwaZulu-Natal art scene, a longtime former arts columnist for The Daily News Tonight and, for an even longer period, The Mercury Goodlife. She was the widow of the late, former Daily News arts editor, Sjoerd Meijer.
Durban artist Carol Hayward Fell wrote: “Such a great loss to the art world. I met her in the late ’70s and have happy memories of laughing and chatting with Marianne at art exhibitions and Arts Interactive over the decades.
“She was a driving force in putting local artists, including myself, on the map with her many exhibition reviews in the press. So many of us will miss her presence in the art world and know that she was one-of-a-kind and utterly irreplaceable.
“She was full of praise and had a knack of making emerging artists feel valued. Rest in peace you lovely old lady! Gone, but never forgotten.”
Durban artist Pascale Chandler, a longtime friend and colleague of Meijer, wrote on Facebook: “Rest in peace, darling Marianne. You filled our lives with your boundless energy and passion for art. You leave behind a legacy of endurance and, despite your frailty, you always showed up and embraced life fully. Condolences to (Marianne’s children) Gwynne and Eric and the family. Loved always!”
Born and educated in Amsterdam in Holland, Meijer emigrated to South Africa in 1958. She spent more than 60 years passionately involved with the art community of Durban – as an artist, an active KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts (KZNSA) council member, a Friends of the Durban Art Gallery chairperson, art columnist for The Mercury and The Daily News, and assistant editor of D’ARTS Magazine.
Her work appeared in many group shows and she staged several solo exhibitions – including those at the Market Gallery in Johannesburg, three at the KZNSA in Durban, and also at Grassroots Gallery, ArtSpace Durban and Bonisa Gallery.
On a personal note, as arts editor of The Mercury from 1993 until the end of 2016, I spent almost three decades editing and laying out pages for Meijer’s weekly art-news-and-reviews column in The Mercury.
She was always an absolute honey, always called me “my sweetheart”, and she gave me a gift of one of her small, floral paintings a few years ago. I will treasure it always as a memory of a very special lady. Rest in peace, dear friend.
Note: Funeral/memorial details will be shared on this post as soon as they are confirmed.