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DEATH OF BRETT KEBBLE (article first published : 2005-10-1)

Prominent personality Brett Kebble was gunned down in his vehicle in Johannesburg earlier this week. The South African arts community is stunned at the news of the death of the founder of the prestigious Kebble Art Awards, the highest valued arts prize system in the country.

“We are shocked and deeply sad to hear of the tragic news of Brett Kebble’s death, it is a great loss,” says Clive van den Berg, curator of the awards. “The Kebble Art Awards team send our deepest condolences to the Kebble family at this difficult time. Brett Kebble had a great love for art and was the most generous art patron South Africa has known. He made a substantial difference to livelihoods of many artists and ensured that artists, even from the most remote areas, benefited from his patronage. He will be remembered by the arts community as the sponsor who acknowledged all the forms of contemporary art and created a platform for them.”

Penny Siopis, artist, lecturer and judge at the second Kebble Awards acknowledges Brett Kebble as the brightest of stars in the art world. "He lit up the lives of countless local artists, not only through his unbelievably generous financial support of their work, but through his deep understanding of, and advocacy for, their need and right to create in a climate of freedom. The Brett Kebble Art Award provided such freedom - there is no art award in this country with so much support and so few restrictions. It is unique in the way Brett was unique. Brett knew the value art has for transformation in our country and was prepared to act on his convictions. We artists will miss him sorely."

Clive van den Berg recognises the enormous strides Brett Kebble made in highlighting the investment potential of visual arts and created a new platform for artists to showcase their work. “He created the finest and most prestigious art awards in South Africa, and artists have become proud to be associated with an award of its calibre,” he says. “Through The Kebble Awards, Brett has generated enormous support from the media for artists. How else in South Africa are artists given the importance of front page news for the achievement of excellence in fine arts? There are many sponsorship options available to businessmen and it was Brett Kebble who had the courage to use sponsorship money for the overlooked area of culture. He realised the role of culture in a changing society and made a significant difference in helping us understand our transition and each other.”

Brett Kebble’s son, Roger, has announced that the third Brett Kebble Art Awards would go ahead as planned. “The Awards were very close to Brett’s heart; he had a great passion for art and going ahead with the current Awards is the best possible tribute to him,” he said. “Brett was an intellectual giant and had the courage of a warrior. He was an exceptional young man in that he made a great contribution to this country. I am sure he will be missed not only by his family and friends, but by South Africa as a whole. He was a visionary and like most visionaries, he was ahead of his time.”

Frank Ledimo, judge of the second and current Kebble Awards said that he was delighted to hear that the Kebble family had decided to continue Brett’s legacy. “Artists around the country will celebrate this decision. I will always remember Brett Kebble for his generosity; he had a great sense of commitment to the transformation of our country and went to great lengths to do it well. As a businessman and an art lover he combined a unique set of talents to ensure the growth of culture in South Africa.”

Tributes to the late Brett Kebble and messages of condolences to the Kebble family on the loss of a son, husband, father and brother can be posted on www.brettkebble.co.za

“Brett was an extraordinary human-being who touched countless lives. We have been inundated by people wishing to pay their respects and to commiserate with the family on their loss, or simply to share their memories of a friend, colleague or associate,” said David Barritt, spokesperson for the Kebble family.

The funeral of Brett Kebble will take place on October 4 at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Burns Unit at the Red Cross Children's hospital in Cape Town. Details of the account are: The Children's Hospital Trust, Standard Bank, Rondebosch, branch code 025009, account number 071443126.

More information from David Barritt on 082 603 3981 or Gail Strauss on 084 777 4060.




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