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TRIBUTE TO GRANT ERSKINE (article first published : 2005-11-15)

Independent Newspapers photographer Grant Alexander Erskine died suddenly of a massive heart attack last week in the KZN Midlands. His funeral was attended by close on 500 people including friends and family as well as those representing all the various interests in his life such as fellow cameramen and film-makers, journalists, musicians and the top echelon of the theatre community. The tributes painted word images of a fun-loving, intuitive, and mildly eccentric man whose keen and sensitive eye captured many splendid images.

A lone piper brought much poignancy to the event and reminded mourners of Grant’s proud Scottish origins. On a recent trip to Scotland, he even ordered an “ancient and rare” Erskine tartan kilt to add to his collection.

He studied with the best. At DIT (formerly Technikon Natal), his lecturer was the acclaimed Obie Oberholzer who inspired him and shared with him his passion for the bold use of colour as well as for red wine and life in general.

Described humorously by close friend and award-winning arts publicist, Illa Thompson, as a “closet guitar player”, Grant was active in the Durban Folk Club and integral to the smooth running of the many music evenings and concerts.

His organisational skills also came to the fore in assisting his friend Sue Salusbury to stage-manage the Southern Cross and Splashy Fen Music Festivals. During the 10th anniversary of Splashy Fen, he was delighted to receive the honour of Freedom of Splashy Fen in acknowledgement of his contribution over the years as a photographer, stage manager and committed Splashy “groupie”.

A student of tai chi, he had also been studying and practicing reiki and healing techniques under the inspirational Jan de Vries.

“Grant was happiest behind the camera – capturing hard news and creative features for the Sunday Tribune as well as for special moments for himself, family and friends,” says Illa Thompson. “He was a talented photographer and video camera-man who took great care in striving for the perfect composition. In this disposable society it is rare to find someone with such dedication to his work and commitment to his art.

“Grant was amazingly generous in spirit – always the first to crack a joke and make people around him feel comfortable – people he met socially or subjects in front of his lens,” she adds. “He was car mad and had an insatiable appetite for mostly unusual and not particularly sensible cars, changing cars often on a whim when a new make caught his fancy.

“In his passing, we have lost a special friend and colleague and Independent Newspapers has lost a supremely talented and dedicated photographer. Grant was one of my oldest, dearest friends and one of the most incredible people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Go in peace, dear Grantee. I miss and love you.”




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