Andrew Verster

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Andrew Verster (1937-2020) was a painter, scenic designer, a writer of short stories, articles and radio plays.


Born Andrew Clement Verster in Johannesburg on 15 June, 1937.

He trained as an artist in the UK, obtaining a National Diploma in Design (1959) from the Camberwell College of Art, London, and an Art Teacher’s Diploma (1960) from Reading University. He returned to settle in Durban, where he began as a lecturer at the University of Durban Westville (then University College, Durban) and the Natal Technikon, remaining there until 1976, when he gave up teaching to become a full-time painter.

He went on to have a total of over fifty solo exhibitions, and is represented in many major public and private collections, and has been awarded two retrospective exhibitions organized by the Durban Art Gallery. Numerous public and private commissions, including sculpture and tapestry for the Reserve Bank Durban, art works Durban Hilton, tapestries and a mural, ABSA Headquarters, Johannesburg and a tapestry in the ICC Durban. Three tapestries for Rhodes House in Oxford. Stainless steel screens for Metro Mall, Johannesburg. Commissions for the Constitutional Court including the entrance doors, carpets for the chamber and foyer, metal gates and chandeliers. He also collaborated with the architect Hans Hallen on Mangosuthu Technikon and the Brenthurst Library.

He passed away on 16 February, 2020.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

In addition of his work as teacher and artist, he was also a theatre set and costume designer, and an author, a writer of short stories, articles and radio plays.


His many theatre designs include:

For Opera Africa: Faust, Princess Magogo, and La Traviata and Rigoletto, as well a for the American production of Princess Magogo (2004)

For the Barnyard Theatre: The Rock Horror Show (2004), Grease (2006).

For the State Theatre, Pretoria [[I Capuletti e I Montecchi

Other designs: The Coolie Odyssey, Threnody and Dances (a chamber opera, Women’s Festival in August 2002), Private Lives (Hilton Festival), the adult pantomime Sinderella, .

Plays and scripts

He wrote a number of plays and shorts stories for the BBC World Service, his first play - You May Leave, The Show is Over - was the winner of the BBC World Service Playwriting Competition in 1992. Then followed Future Past (a radio play commissioned by the BBC World Service, and featuring the voices of three ex-South Africans: Janet Suzman, Rowena Copper and Estelle Kohler, among others); When in Rome, Don’t drink the water and a short story, Aileen, Marjorie, Arthur and Me, which was adapted and broadcast by the BBC.


As a writer and critic he wrote articles for Style Magazine, mostly on his visits to India, and in Leadership and various architectural journals. He was also an art critic on the Daily News for twelve years and had a weekly column, From the Backwater, for four years.

Organisational roles in the arts

He was a member of the Film and Publication Review Board, Trustee of the Durban Art Gallery, the Arts Work Trust, Very Special Arts, Artists for Human Rights Trust and the African Art Centre. Committee of the Grahamstown Festival.

Awards, etc

He received the best costume design in the Fools Awards 2003 and best costume design in the Durban Theatre Awards 2004. He also received the Fools Awards consecutively in 2005, 2006 and 2007 for best visual artist.

In April 2009 he received an Honorary Doctorate in Arts and Design from the Durban University of Technology (DUT), for his significant contribution to the Arts through his paintings, writings and designs of set and costumes.


Johan Myburg. 2020. "Hy skep sy eie intieme wêreld" Die Burger (Kuns & Vermaak), 21 February, 2020: p.9.

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