Gordon Vorster

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Gordon Vorster (1924-1988) was a filmmaker and actor, novelist and painter.


Born Gordon Frank Vorster in Warrenton, near Kimberley, on the 17th of September 1924, the son of Paul Philippus Vorster and Nancy Christina Clack. He also had one brother and two sisters.

His father was a diamond digger and the family led a nomadic life. Gordon thus got to know the Kalahari and Griqualand at an early stage of his life. Much of his art shows this influence.

Educated at the Diamantveld Hoërskool in Kimberley, he originally intended to become an accountant but during the second world war he joined the S.A. Air Force in 1941 and saw service in North Africa and Italy. His experiences in Italy, including exposure to various studios in Florence (1946), fostered an interest in art. He therefore went to study at the University of the Witwatersrand under Willem Hendrikz, Charles Argent and Dr Maria Stein-Lessing (1947-49).

He initially worked in the film industry (see below), but later returned to a career as artist.

He married Martha Yvonne van Schalkwyk (1924-1988) in 1947.

Vorster died on 9th October 1988.

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

In 1950 he joined the Killarney Film Studios as Art Director and became involved in making both documentary and feature films as writer, producer and director. He produced over 100 documentaries, was the set decorator on the feature films Hier's Ons Weer! (1950) and Hans-die-Skipper (1952) and the art director of Diamond Safari (1958).

In 1963 he left full-time filming to concentrate on painting, holding his first exhibition in 1964. More than 60 exhibitions of his paintings have been shown internationally and his works now hang in South African art museums and in corporate and private collections in South Africa and overseas.

An accomplished bilingual actor, Vorster was awarded the 'Oscar' of the South African Motion Picture Producer's Association for his performance in the film Pappa Lap: 'n Verhaal van 'n pa en sy dogter (1971) and won two Star Tonight Awards for The Story of an African Farm (1967) and The Pain (1980). His performance in Athol Fugard's The Guest: An episode in the Life of Eugène Marais (1977) won him another Best actor award. Other film and TV roles include appearances in Alles Sal Regkom (1951), Die Ruiter in die Nag (1963), TJ 7 (1978), Sam et Sally (1980), The Story of an African Farm (TV Series, 1980) and Wie Laaste Lag... (1986).

He often wrote and directed - and sometimes also performed- in his own films, e.g Die Jagters (1960), Die Vlugteling (1960), Basie (1961) Jy's Lieflik Vanaand (1962), Die Tweede Slaapkamer (1962), Sarah (1975), The Fifth Season (1978).

He wrote the story for the film Inspan in 1953.

For a period he was also an art and drama critic for radio, regularly broadcasting in English and Afrikaans.

He wrote two novels, The Textures of Silence (1983), which won the prestigious Golden Cape Prize, and Spinning by Fire.

His stage plays include a full-length work called Time Till Sundown, the text exists in a typed and bound form, but has not been published and no record has been found of a performance.



Text of Time Till Sundown



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