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Friday, July 24, 2009


Act of desecration in Aidan Walsh’s memory at his memorial celebration.

On Monday evening (July 20), acclaimed artist Aidan Walsh's life was honoured at a moving funeral service at Nazareth House where those attending brought a multitude of flowers to drape his simple coffin. This was followed by a memorial celebration at the KZNSA Gallery where Aidan’s most recent work was displayed, with candles, music and the planting of a tree.

The gatherings at both the chapel and the gallery featured an impressive representation of major roleplayers in the visual arts field in Durban as well as those who came from Cape Town and Johannesburg for the event. It was evident that Aidan Walsh’s influence spread far and wide across the arts spectrum as there were many well-known performing artists present as well as high profile members of the business and legal professions.

However, a shocking discovery was made by the KZNSA gallery staff as they were closing up once the celebration was over. One of the paintings, which had been sold earlier in the evening, was missing.

As Andrew Verster, fellow artist and Aidan’s partner of 42 years, states on Facebook: “It was the biggest gathering of people at the Gallery ever, in itself a testament to how much he was loved. There was an exhibition of the ten last works he painted. Sadly, one of the paintings was stolen from the wall. An act of desecration to his memory.”

Fortunately, the KZNSA’s cctv cameras picked up the culprit and the footage revealed the identity of the thief. It is understood that procedures are in place to return the painting to the people who bought it and for future legal action.

Apart from the robbery aspect, this act was nothing more than despicable and contemptible, displaying a shameful disrespect to the memory of an esteemed artist.

As Andrew Verster noted: “This is no ordinary theft. As the last works that an artist touched before they died, they have the aura of holy relics.”