Denis Santry

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(b. Cork, 14/05/1879 – d. Durban, 14/04/60). Architect, cartoonist, sculptor, designer, animator. Originally an apprentice to a carpenter (possibly his father), Denis Santry won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London, after which he returned to his home town of Cork in Ireland to article with a local firm of architects. Towards the end of 1901 he moved to South Africa for health reasons and worked as architect and civil engineer in Cape Town. In addition he began to develop a reputation as cartoonist, with his work appearing under the pseudonym of Adam. He was also a silversmith and, with his wife, Madeleine, who was an enameller, he designed the ceremonial key for the opening of Cape Town's new City Hall, which was completed in 1905. Eventually he gave up his architectural practice to concentrate on his art and in 1910 he moved to Johannesburg to become a political cartoonist with the Rand Daily Mail and the Sunday Times. During World War I his work appeared in newspapers overseas and it was during this time that he did some work first for the African Films Trust and subsequently for African Film Productions. His so-called Topicalities, with Joseph Albrecht as cameraman, were animated shorts that commented on issues of the day (notably the war in Europe) and were also released in Great Britain. In addition he appeared as the artist and did the drawings for the short An Artist’s Inspiration (1916). Possibly inspired by Winsor McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur, which had appeared in 1914, it also featured Mabel May, Dick Cruikshanks and H.B. Waring. In addition he illustrated and wrote some articles for S.A. Pictorial. After a brief stay in the United States, he won competitions to design a war memorial and a bank in Singapore and settled there in 1919 to join a leading firm of architects, for whom he also designed the prestigious new Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque). In 1934 he planned to retire to England, but his health eventually forced him to return to South Africa, where his wife died in 1944. He died in 1960 and was survived by his second wife, Edith. (FO)


The Straits Times, 7 March 1934

Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm

Schoonraad, Murray and Elzabé - Companion to South African cartoonists

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