Clarke was born in Simon’s Town in Cape Town in 1929, and passed away yesterday, 13 April, aged 84.
He worked as a dockworker before becoming a professional artist in the mid-1950s, and was best known for his printmaking and woodcuts, although he more recently worked with collage. He also wrote essays, short stories and poetry. In an interview with Artthrob in 2003, Clarke joked: “Had I been triplets, it would have made it much easier because each could have his own job. There are times when I go through a writing phase and there are times for phases of picture-making but there is never a dull moment.”
Watch a video of Clarke talking about his work at the Institute of International Visual Arts in London last year:
In 2007, Issue 64 of Carapace was dedicated to Clarke, to mark his 78th birthday on 1 June 2007. “Knowledge”, a woodcutting, featured on the cover:
The same issue contained his poem “Self Portrait: Aged 14″:
Journalist and writer Herman Lategan published this tribute on Facebook:
He was also mourned by many on Twitter:
It is ours to continue in the footsteps of legends such as Peter Clarke. In us, he'll forever live on
— Azola Dayile (@AzolaDayile) April 14, 2014
RIP Peter E Clarke, one of our best poets and artists. pic.twitter.com/fydtEx2Nmc
— Ben Williams (@benrwms) April 14, 2014
— Penny Haw (@PennyHaw) April 14, 2014
Omar Badsha on Peter Clarke's passing: "A humble gentle man who was one of the most significant black working class artists."
— Africa is a Country (@AfricasaCountry) April 14, 2014
Goodbye Peter Clarke / We thank you for your contribution to the arts and celebrate you as a friend and icon.
— AVA (@TheAVAGallery) April 13, 2014
Sad to hear about artist Peter Clarke's death today. He leaves a long and definitive legacy, he will be missed by many, a dear friend.
— Erdmann Contemporary (@ErdmannGallery) April 13, 2014
“@Artinsure: Peter Clarke 1929-2014 . One of South Africa's great artists. RIP” A loss to South Africa.
— Michelle Constant (@MichConstant) April 13, 2014
Hearing Peter Clarke in conversation with HUO at Iniva was one of the highlights of my time in London. What a tremendous loss.
— Lola (@runlolarun) April 13, 2014
Image courtesy of NLA Design and Visual Arts