Dear colleagues and students
It is with a deep sense of sadness that we inform you of the passing of our colleague, Ms Marilyn Martin, on Sunday, 22 May 2022.
A brilliant and astounding individual, Ms Martin had a long relationship with the University of Cape Town, most recently as an honorary research associate at Michaelis School of Fine Art. She has been described as a dynamo of energy and life. In her fluent French, she could elegantly organise anything. While her demeanour may have been tough she had a kind and generous heart.
She was a prominent figure in the world of South African art and culture. She was awarded the Legion of Honour of the Republic of France as an Officer in 2002, and in 2013 she received the medal of Fondation des Alliance Française in Paris.
In May 2001, after eleven years as director of the South African National Gallery, Ms Martin was appointed director of art collections for Iziko Museums. Prior to her career in the museum sector, she was senior lecturer in the Department of Architecture at Wits University.
She retired from Iziko Museums in 2008 and then worked as an independent writer, curator and lecturer. Her books include Between Dreams and Realities - A History of the South African National Gallery, 1871-2017 and a monograph on Michaelis professor and artist, Kevin Atkinson - Art and Life, due to be released in July this year.
She was a member of the National Arts Council from 1997 to 2004 and a trustee of the Arts and Culture Trust until 2007. She also served on the Council of Iziko Museums from 2010 to 2013.
Ms Martin has curated exhibitions of South African art in Brazil, Denmark, France, Mali and the USA, and has served on many panels for art and architecture, including the Dakar Biennale (a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in Senegal) in 2000 and 2010. She was co-curator for the exhibition Picasso and Africa; she curated the retrospective exhibition on Louis Maqhubela for the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg in 2010 as well as 1970-1990: A Legacy for the Association of Visual Arts in Cape Town.
Ms Martin served as visiting professor at Kingston University, London, in 2009. She has written numerous articles on art and culture in national and international publications.
She leaves behind two children, John and Cathy.
The university has reached out to offer support to the Martin family. Our heartfelt condolences go out to them and all who knew her.
The UCT Executive
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