Dr Stuart Saunders
PAST VICE CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN AND FAMILY FRIEND
Bruce was a quiet but determined man. He was also inspirational. His creativity knew no bounds and his sculpture especially will live on forever as a form of immortality. He was a very good friend and I was so fond of him and proud of his achievements. He added lustre to the University of Cape Town and was one of its most distinguished academics. My thoughts are with Mari, Ariane and Matthew who have such wonderful memories to help them through this difficult time.
FASHION DESIGNER IN LA, USA | DISCERNING AND INSIGHTFUL COLLECTOR OF BRUCE'S SCULPTURES AND FRIEND
Bruce was a friend, and a hero to me and it was a privilege to have been able to spend the times I did with him at his home. I always cherished [my visits to his studio in Michaelis] and still marvel at the universe he created every time I see my photos of [his] very special "things" strewn around that room.
ARTIST, PROFESSOR AND COLLEAGUE AT MICHAELIS, UCT
He had such a strong legacy at the school and impacted on the creative lives of so many artists. When I walk through the campus so much of it is cast in Bruce's historical framing. Each day I look out of my studio window at the trees that he was responsible for planting. I saw them grow from saplings.
Janet Purcell van Graan
SENIOR LECTURER AT CPUT AND PAST STUDENT AT MICHAELIS
I was thinking about him as a supervisor, when he stepped in so generously at the closing stages of my MFA ... when I was really lacking confidence. He didn't seem to doubt me at all, and although I arrived in his office at art school terrified and in awe of this admired and respected artist, he was so kind, gentle, clear in thinking, so knowledgable of academic language and structure that I don't remember being afraid again. He has left a mark on many of us, and I feel very privileged to have passed under his tuition. I have been reflecting on him as a brilliant teacher and supervisor with slightly different and deeply appreciative eyes.
FAMILY FRIEND AND PROFESSOR EMERITUS IN ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT, UCT
Even though I knew Bruce for a small proportion of our lives, I felt a most special friendship for him, coming out of respect and admiration but mainly from some kind of affinity of the mind, as if he'd been a lifelong friend. I'll miss him more than you can know.
Ingrid de Kok
FAMILY FRIEND, AUTHOR, POET, LIFE FELLOW AND PROFESSOR EMERITUS UCT
I admired and loved Bruce – his wide knowledge, his uncompromising artistic standards, his kindness and humour. How we shall miss him.
PROFESSOR IN CLASSICS AND COLLEAGUE AT UCT
I shall always be grateful that I had the opportunity to work in a small way with a man of such enormous talent. I suspect our lives would not have crossed paths otherwise, and it was entirely unexpected. I learned so much from him in the process of supervising Charlayn, and although he never knew it he opened my eyes to new possibilities and perspectives in my own discipline.
FAMILY FRIEND AND PAST STUDENT AT MICHAELIS, UCT
For us, the abiding memory of Bruce is his wonderfully enjoyable company – his generous spirit, conviviality, joie de vivre and lovely sense of humour. We were always amazed by Bruce's profound wisdom and sharp intellect – he seemed to have a vast and detailed knowledge of almost everything! and took a lively interest in most issues. We will remember him also for his compassion and the care and understanding he showed towards friends (and their offspring!). Above all, though, we will remember the obvious love he had for his family. And, of course, his deep and solid integrity. A truly most special person. No wonder he produced such magnificent magical sculptures! A wonderful lasting legacy indeed.
SCULPTOR, PROFESSOR AND COLLEAGUE AT MICHAELIS UCT
It was a great privilege to work with Bruce. Unfortunately I was never a student of his, but I learned a great deal from him about teaching, supervision and sculpture as a colleague for which I am ever grateful. Lovel Friedman, Brett Murray and Delise Reich recall what an exceptional teacher he was, and Brett acknowledges the "profound influence" Bruce had on his work, noting that some of his best memories of Michaelis were working on Bruce's bronzes in the university breaks (hand tools only). Although we had little contact in the recent past, Bruce is always very present – not only through memory, the school, his former office and public sculptures but less expected sources. A recent graduate and successfully practicing artist Dada Khanyisa grew up in Johannesburg never having access to art education or recreation as a child but passing Bruce's 'Citizen' outside JAG on the way to school daily, became curious.
ARTIST, AUTHOR, LIFE FELLOW, PROFESSOR OF FINE ART AND COLLEAGUE AT MICHAELIS, UCT
I think of Bruce with so much affection, and of all the ways in which he contributed to my own life at Michaelis (as he did for so many) with his inimitable insight and wit and understanding. The books he introduced me to, the ways he shifted ground at the school, and of course I think of the work he made – the fat beaked parrot that he gave me a special treasure – and all the reminders of his immense talent in his public pieces.
SCULPTOR, PROFESSOR EMERITUS AND COLLEAGUE AT MICHAELIS, UCT
Although we were colleagues, we were also friends over a good many years. Memories of time and place are fugitive, but I do have a strong recollection of Bruce when he first joined the staff at Michaelis – tall and persuasive, he told me of his pig-farming experiment after leaving what we called the Nat Gal (now Iziko National Art Gallery). He introduced ... bronze casting as a sculptural medium. Bruce introduced other innovations, like the 4th year catalogue that all Sculpture majors were required to produce. Bruce had had publishing experience and was a meticulous editor. This became evident when another of his inventions saw fruition – Artworks in Progress (aka, The Yearbook). This landmark innovation was peer-reviewed by Tony Morphet, on Bruce's suggestion. These 'memories' were cemented in time by our daily teaching duties. The 4th years were, of course, the gold standard by which the various sections, Painting, Printmaking and so on, were judged. Bruce was a kind man, but not above delivering a withering, calibrating comment. During his tenure as Director he led the school from behind, allowing all staff to augment and enliven the academic project we called the BA Fine Art. I, and others who succeeded him as Director, inherited a functioning, credible art school – some have said the 'best' in the land. For Bruce, comparative statements were not part of his nature – he liked to get on with the job of inspiring others and honing their endeavours through praise. Go well my friend.
FRIEND AND ADMIRER OF BRUCE'S SCULPTURES
My heart cracked a little when I heard that dear, magnificent Bruce is no longer here. I cannot believe that he slipped away, larger than life, with all of his knowledge, passion and exceptional talent for making beautiful, humorous and unique insights manifest. I am so sorry. It is a great loss to your family first and foremost. But it is also a loss twice over to the art world that for a moment overlooked one of its quiet giants in the haste to hurry forward into the fray of market-savvy novelty. Bruce was [a most special person and artist], and the paltry reward for the hardships of life as a great artist is that the work remains, and 'Bruce Arnott' IS. Every artist I know spoke of him with reverence and will be pallbearers for his reputation, alongside his family and friends, until the future remembers.
A LIFELONG FRIEND, WRITER AND PIONEER IN THE FIELD OF ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT AT UCT
Dear Mari, first I want to thank you for sending on the tributes given to Bruce at the funeral. I thought the words of Ariane and Matthew were especially wonderful – strong, true and tender – fitting in every way for Bruce's distinction as a person, a father and an artist. I am only sorry that I wasn't able to be there with you all. As you said I was one of Bruce's oldest friends. We met first at school in 1953 and the photograph of him in his choir is a remembrance of just that. I walked in the choir procession just behind him.
I had a tribute in mind, but I was just not strong enough to get it written on the day. What I had wanted to talk about was how he was as a friend and then as an artist. I wanted to describe my unofficial tour to see all the major works standing in the various cities and towns, and ending, for me, with the marvellous Citizen. I had in mind to say a word or two about Mr Punch himself and how he changed over the years and then to describe a few of the works that are in our house. They are there now as daily reminder of all that he meant to me and to so many others. If I can express that meaning in short and simple way it was that he held within him a measure of the current of life. It was present in his art as well as his presence. For myself I feel the loss of that measure – his integrity, wit and generosity. Instead there is a painful emptiness. I have no doubt that you feel it too and I want to send my condolences to both you and the children. You were blessed to know him and you can draw on that for all your life. I hope it will not be too painful.