RIP Oupa Koos: The artist who gave back


Robyn Sassen

A freelance arts writer since 1998, I fell in love with the theatre as a toddler, proved rubbish as a ballerina: my starring role was as Mrs Pussy in Noddy as a seven-year-old, and earned my stripes as an academic in Fine Arts and Art History, in subsequent years. I write for a range of online and print publications, including the Sunday Times, the Mail & Guardian and and was formerly the arts editor of the SA Jewish Report, a weekly newspaper with which I was associated for 16 years.
Robyn Sassen


ALWAYS at play: The late Koos van der Watt at his family home.

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TEACHING ART HAS the power to shape lives. University of South Africa art academic and practising artist Koos van der Watt was fiercely creative on so many different levels. Working with everything from printmaking and performance, filmmaking to music, he took his capacity to grow young artists seriously but infused everything he did with a sense of humour. He died on April 28, 2019, from leukaemia. He was 75.

A teacher to his core, van der Watt started his professional life studying education in Pretoria, where he obtained a diploma in art teaching. But he felt very strongly about forbidding his students to become “photocopies” of himself, and he insisted that they follow their own ideas, and push vehemently beyond their boundaries and comfort zones, but above all, to be honest with themselves. And in criticising student work he was always careful to make it clear that the comments were never personal, but were…

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