South Africa is mourning the loss of one of it’s greatest artists, with the passing of Andrew Vester who died this past Sunday, the 16th February 2020. Although originally from Johannesburg, Durban proudly claimed him as one of its own, as Verster spent much of his adult life on the east coast.
Coming to Durban in 1963 to take up a lecturing post at the Indian University meant that from my first day I was part of the culture”, Andrew Verster, May 2007
Andrew Verster came to Durban at the age of 25 to take up a lecturing post at the University of Durban Westville (UDW), which now forms part of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. At the time UDW catered specifically for Indians students and was established to serve as the university college for Indians on Salisbury Island in Durban Bay.
Verster had a lifelong fascination with Hindu culture, and with the history between Durban and India, which is a theme that was often present in his work. Other aspects of South African history also wove in and out of Verster’s art, sometimes with great subtlety and other times more overtly, as in the case of Opera Africa’s ‘Princess Magogo’ for which Verster designed the sets and costumes.
A prolific artist, Andrew Verster described himself as a painter, but didn’t limit his creations to oils. Instead he was involved with producing everything from plays and tapestries to the doors that greet people as they enter South Africa’s Constitutional Court.
Talking of the expanse of his work during an interview for the Constitutional Court Oral History Project , Verster explained that he wasn’t necessarily skilled in all of the crafts evident in his work, but rather understood how to interpret different mediums, and worked well with people who could execute his vision. Verster’s ability to form relationships with other artists, and to give them their due credit, hints at the type of artist, and indeed the type of person that Andrew Verster was: outrageously talented, impressively modest, and most importantly, kind.
A memorial service for Andrew Verster will take place on Tuesday the 25th February at 15h30 at St Thomas Church on Musgrave Road. A wake will be held afterwards at St Clements restaurant, also on Musgrave Road