Family, friends say farewell to ‘best artist’

2014-01-10 00:00

LIFE is beautiful … Let’s live. These simple words were the motto by which Clinton de Menezes lived his life.

Yesterday more than 100 family, friends and members of Durban’s close-knit arts community gathered to celebrate his life and work at a special memorial service at the Durban University of Technology art gallery on the Steve Biko campus.

His brother Gary, speaking on behalf of his wife Nicola, daughter Eva, and the De Menezes family, said that despite struggling at times to make a living from his art, he never once considered giving up his dream.

“From a very young age my brother knew that he wanted to be an artist … [and] he never swayed from what he wanted to do.

“He always wanted to and eventually did follow his calling to do art,” he added.

And it was, Gary said, through his art that he met and later married the love of his life, Nicola. The couple, who married in December 2012, had a daughter, Eva, who told those at the memorial service that her dad was the most amazing man and the “best artist in the world”.

Father and daughter were very close and would spend time together in De Menezes’ studio, and his brother said he believed that De Menezes loved his little girl more than most parents love their children in an entire lifetime.

His deep love and commitment to his family underpinned his decision to leave London last July, to move to Nairobi in Kenya to support Nicola, who was taking up a new post with the oil company Tullow.

It was also the driving force that drove him to protect his family and close friends, Simon and Amanda Malpas, when robbers broke into the Malpases’ Durban home on New Year’s Eve, killing De Menezes and injuring Simon.

“He paid the price to protect the people that he loved the most — his family and friends,” said Gary, adding that he was sure that De Menezes had no regrets about his action and would have done it again if he needed to.

Gary said his brother’s Facebook page had been inundated with tributes from friends and fellow artists who praised him for being an inspiration in their lives and for his warmth and kindness.

One post revealed that just two weeks ago, De Menezes had been having dinner with friends when his party became aware that a woman in the restaurant was celebrating her birthday alone. He immediately pulled her across to their table and then proceeded to make the whole night about her.

Another post showed his generosity of spirit. A friend who was struggling to make ends meet was selling handbags.

De Menezes bought many of these bags, even though he didn’t need them, just to help her financially. At the time he was facing his own financial struggles.

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