Marianne Meijer 1935 - 2020 An Obituary by Anthea Martin
Marianne Meijer (1935-2020) An Obituary
Marianne was born in Holland and educated in Amsterdam . She had a complicated youth as her parents were freedom fighters in World War 2 and as a result her father was sent to Dachau concentration camp for three years and her mother was sent to jail for several months. The neighbours took care of her and her twin sisters. There was no food and in 1944 during the “Honger” winter, as she was the eldest, her mother sent her away from home to an acquaintance of her father.
Marianne’s father was a well-known Dutch writer and she grew up in a highly creative/artistic environment, surrounded by writers, artists, musicians and other very talented people.
After matriculation, Marianne completed a three year diploma course in nursing. She married journalist Sjoerd Meijer during her final year. They emigrated to South Africa, in 1957, living in Johannesburg for two years, then Kimberley and finally to Durban where Sjoerd was a news editor on the Daily News newspaper.
Marianne started painting and through her interest in art she became an active NSA and KZNSA Council member for 40 years, during which she was president for three years and for fifteen years as vice-president. The highlight of that period was when Sylvia Kaplan, Carol Brown and Marianne - after several delegations to the Durban City Council, were given the ground where the current KZNSA is situated on a 30 year lease. They then raised funds to build the present KZNSA Gallery.
Marianne as an artist was passionate about art and had many solo exhibitions and participated in many group exhibitions. She was painting right up until about a month before her death and was planning a solo exhibition to celebrate her 85th birthday. Sadly this had to be cancelled due to ill health.
Her journalistic career started because she was asked to write the Umhlanga newspaper, North Glen News, which she did for 20 years. She also wrote a weekly art column for The Natal Mercury and the Daily News for 15 years followed by an art column titled ART NOTES for the last 22 years for The Natal Mercury newspaper. These have become an invaluable resource as they have documented the history of art in Durban for many years.
Marianne was also a board member of the African Art Centre for many years. She actively promoted the centre from the early 1970’s to the present. She was a lifelong friend of both Jo Thorpe and Anthea Martin, both directors of the African Art Centre.
Her dedication to her writing and her own art, plus her support of others in their lives and art making is legendary. Her contribution to the cultural life of Durban was outstanding. She will be greatly missed by her friends and colleagues.