Artist’s death ‘is a huge loss to military history in SA’

2016-01-27 10:32
Ronald Collyer holds up some of his step-father Andrew May’s world-renowned pencil drawings of military uniforms.

Ronald Collyer holds up some of his step-father Andrew May’s world-renowned pencil drawings of military uniforms. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - The body of the man found in the Duzi River last Friday has been identified as world-renowned military uniform artist Andy May.

May was reported missing by his wife Irena after he went walking along the river and failed to return home last Wednesday.

May was well-known throughout the UK and South Africa as a military uniform advisor for the film Zulu Dawn and series Shaka Zulu.

He was also commissioned by many journals, museums and societies for his detailed drawings of military uniforms worn by soldiers during the Anglo-Boer War, the Zulu War and the American Civil War.

Born in Scotland in 1936, May moved to Durban in 1971 and started his career as a military uniform illustrator.

Irena said yesterday that they had moved to Pietermaritzburg from Pretoria last week, and May had just been commissioned for his illustrations by a UK publication.

A devastated Irena said yesterday that she had known May for 45 years and they had met through the Military History Society.

They married three and a half years ago and arrived in Pietermaritzburg to settle down away from the bustle of Pretoria.

“I am devastated,” she said, weeping.

“We had known each other for 45 years. He was always joking around and we moved here together because I knew it would make him happy.

“He was a great artist and a wonderful man,” she said.

May’s stepson Ronald Collyer said he was an upstanding man and that his knowledge was irreplaceable.

Bush and Battlefield Tours owner Ken Gillings said he had known May for decades. They met when he joined the South African Military History Society.

“When he first produced his sketches, we were all astounded. They were remarkable,” said Gillings.

“His sketches have been used by students of military history for referral and his death is a huge loss to military history in South Africa.

“He had the most hilarious sense of humour and it was a great privilege knowing him. I still cannot believe he is gone,” he said.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  death

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