Visual Redress Collection

In Memoriam: Prof Elmarie Costandius

Tributes to Professor Elmarie Constandius

Prof Vuli Nyoni

My dear colleagues,  

Words cannot express the shock I had when hearing of Elmarie’s passing. I wanted to reach out and let you know how sorry I am for the loss of one of your team and the loss of a spirited and dedicated teacher and researcher for all of us.  

I remember Elmarie fondly as being principled and dedicated to her mission. Some of my colleagues here at NMU met her recently and sought me out to speak of how much they enjoyed working with her. I think in that way, connections made in life can never really be broken. Again, I am sending my heartfelt condolences to you all.  

I miss you all, and trust we will have opportunity to reconnect in happier circumstances.  



Christine Peckham

Dear Kathryn 

Thank you for your communication. I am so sorry for the loss of your colleague, someone who was focused, determined, kind and transformative in so many ways. The personal impact on people who knew her well is unimaginable. What terrible news to have to communicate and to absorb. My thoughts are with you and Elmarie’s close community. 

Kind regards


Prof Jean Brundrit

Dear Kathryn and colleagues  

I am writing on behalf of Michaelis to send condolences about Elmarie’s death and wish you all fortitude in this time. It is such an awful event. Our thoughts are with you.  



Prof Lizette Rabe

Dear Kathryn  

Please accept my sincerest condolences to you and all in your department with the passing of a wonderful colleague and friend. What a huge loss to our faculty, campus and community as a whole. 



Monique Putter

Dear Dr Kathryn & Prof. Viljoen,  

I am not sure why I am emailing you, I just heard the news of Elmarie.   

I am heartbroken. I’ve never had anyone believe in me the way she did and my weekly meetings with her was a highlight. She inspired me more than any other mentor I’ve  had. She was the reason for me to start my PhD as she believed in me which made me believe in me.  

I just spoke to her a week ago. I am completely in shock.   

I am so sorry for your loss and the department’s loss. I am so sorry to every student that had the privilege to work with her. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to be at the Visual Redress conference and to have given Elmarie a nice warm hug. Just last week I wrote my acknowledgements of my thesis where I expressed my appreciation of her as a true mentor. I still had so so much to learn from her. I am sad she will not get to read this paragraph. I am so grateful I at least told her over messages.  

I guess I am just writing an email to share how I feel with people who knew her and to express my condolences. I am sure my heart sore is felt by so so so many others.  

Monique Putter   


Milia Khoury

Dear Stella and Kathryn  

It is with great sadness that I heard of the untimely passing of Prof. Elmarie Costandius. Who I had met on one of her many visits as an external moderator at CPUT years ago. Over the years we in the art/ design education field in South Africa have looked to her research. I have prescribed the book she edited Educating Citizen Designers in South Africa on many occasions to our postgraduate students. Her work will continue to have a long lasting impact. 

My thoughts are with all staff, students and her family during this time of sorrow. Wishing you all strength during this time. May she go in peace and light!  



PXL-MAD Hasselt team

Dear Kathryn,
Dear colleagues,
Dear family and friends of Elmarie,  

With this letter we would like to express our condolences on the death of our colleague Prof. Dr. Elmarie Costandius. The news came as a big shock and remains very surreal.  

We met Elmarie in 2019 in connection with the South Initiative project, Economic Empowerment through Cultural Inclusion in Stellenbosch (EECI), in which she played an important role. In the context of this project, we organized several workshops in South Africa. Besides that, this project allowed her to visit our academy together with her son in 2021. In that same year we physically met her in Stellenbosch, together with Elizabeth Miller-Vermeulen, when the project was completed. Of course, this was also the moment where we could dream of joint future projects. 

We got to know Elmarie as someone who was committed to all walks of life and more specifically to artists and designers from South Africa. At first, she came across as cautious, but her thoughtfulness was above all a sign of her great care for all people involved. The more we spoke and worked together, the more beautiful facets we got to know. During the project we got to know her as a very punctual person, who always kept her promises, and took very concrete initiative when needed. She knew how to unite people and knew when it was time for concrete actions to be taken.   

When she was on a roll, her eyes sparkled and she was very determined to achieve her goal, but always with the necessary care for everyone involved. As a person we experienced her as a warm personality, friendly, jovial, sociable and caring. We will definitely miss her, and we are grateful to have worked with her and to have gotten to know her. 

We remember many beautiful memories, and we wish you all the strength needed to cope with this loss!  

Karen Wuytens, Ilse Van Roy, Bert Willems
PXL-MAD, School of Arts, Hasselt, Belgium 


Prof Lize Kriel, UP

Dear Kathryn  

I apologise for my long silence.  

Here in Pretoria the colleagues are almost all back at work now.  

We were very sad to hear about the accident and the passing of Elmarie and her son.  Please be assured that us here at UP are thinking of you and your colleagues and Elmarie’s loved ones.   

We will continue to remember her when we read her work and use her writing in our teaching.   

Wishing you and your staff strength and peace of mind in what promises to be an eventful year.   

Kind greetings


Prof David Andrew, Wits  

Dear Kathryn,  

I hope you are well and best wishes for the 2024 year.  

A former colleague of mine informed me of Elmarie Costandius’ tragic passing earlier in January. I didn’t know her well, but followed her research and writing as closely as possible and always felt she was doing work of great importance. I’ve just started looking at the most recent collection she co-edited with Gera de Villiers and was planning to invite her to participate in an Arts Schools Pedagogies project I am initiating. The examination of one of her PhD students also provided me with insights into the extent and depth of her experience and expertise.  

My condolences go to you, your colleagues in the Visual Arts Department, family and friends. Elmarie will be deeply missed.  

Best regards, 


Prof Hanlie Dippenaar, CPUT/TAU

Dear Dr Smith  

On behalf of TAU, I would like to express our sincere condolences to you and you  colleagues, for the devastating loss of Elmarie. This is such a blow to all who had the privilege to know her.  


Prof Ari Sitas

It is hard losing a caring, giving, creative spirit and friend in such a sudden and unexpected way. We were to meet on the 19th of January to work on one of her dearest and nearest projects, promoted by Kopano Ratele, a multi-media event that was to challenge the dilemmas of her University in the Rooi Square. It was to happen in February or March of 2024.   

It was to involve dozens of creative people: composers and musicians, performers and visual maestri.  

Although she was never a formal colleague of mine, we had covered a long road to here: our first real encounter was over the creation and drafting of the Charter for the Future of the humanities and the Social Sciences in the country. If there is an iota of care for the visual and the creative fields in that Charter it was thanks to her prompting and questioning as a member of its steering committee. Also, about the need for such work in communities and the gathering of talent from everywhere.  

Stop it, I said once you will send even me back to work with crayons! She did.  

I stumbled recently on one of her notes on re-imagining the Humanities from 2011. It had this to say: “some suggestions for this re-imagining may include exploring the notion of art making and viewing as a more public process (which is not circumscribed by the traditional Western notion of the singular artist) which works towards social healing of past wrongs… Another is exploring the use of art in educational curricula as a medium of transformation and communication. Here we must think beyond art in a strictly disciplined form, as creative thinking and imagination is crucial in all spheres of life and should be developed widely in education and society, not only as the prerogative of a privileged few.” 

She also picked up her own metaphoric crayons and designed the artwork for the Charter’s manuscript: little figures wading through layers and layers of assembled maps. Her artwork was incorporated in the design of the National Institute’s vast wall-spaces. It was the work of a delicate muralist. 

Since then, the tree of our interactions grew multiple branches: now, doing the artwork for a book of selected poems; now coordinating a team, including her wonderful protégé Stephane Conradie to execute a wondrous casing for an award-winning album, Storming;now, advising of how to create the visual language of what became a pluri-medial text, from which a visual theatre was congealed as Dark Things in Delhi. She volunteered images of her abandoned glasswork which she was to return to, she threatened, in 2024. 

I admired the creative hives she managed to create and the few of her proteges I had the pleasure to work with, especially Sophia Sanan (nee Rosochacki), one of the best scholars we poached from Stellenbosch through a Global Studies Programme and later at UCT; the aforementioned Stephane Conradie that helped us visually launch three giraffes from Africa to China via Bengal recently; Talia Simons, Adrie Le Roux and their knack for illustration and story-telling and many, many others.  

I knew that many colleagues just teach-she ploughed. She was always proud of what she harvested. 

What I found invaluable were her ideas of how to turn many of the more violent-infused themes I and some of my friends were exploring into more delicate and thoughtful images, how calligraphy was beyond a concatenation of letters, how a few simple lines could change a backdrop to powerful effect. But on this and her enduring craft, friends and colleagues in the visual worlds will be better equipped to trace and explicate.  

Elmarie’s departure will leave all of us with a major challenge: can we be kind, giving and excellent in what we do? Will her open-ness and moral backbone be preserved at this University and within the visual spaces future students will be facing here and everywhere?  

In another note in 2012, she argued: “I believe that the link between creativity and critical thinking is undervalued. Recognising critical issues in society and finding appropriate solutions requires a creative mind that can harness a ‘narrative imagination’ (to borrow from Martha Nussbaum). This is the ability to practice empathy and imagine oneself in the shoes of others in order to determine a possible solution. The development of this capacity for a ‘moral imagination’ has traditionally been the prerogative of the arts.  Ilyenkov argued that the transformative power of imagination lies in its ability to not only to make visible that which does not exist, but also to seeing and recognising that which already exists.” 

We owe it to her, to do both! 

Our last encounter was sadly humorous: she was trying to get a January 2024 meeting together for the Rooi Square project. I objected to her timing: “there you go stopping me from trying to find myself in solitude, in peace to play with my crayons…” Her response: “Yes, I am trying hard to get you away from the crayons. But it seems that you cannot escape the tag of a graphic wannabe ”.  

Then, the unthinkable happened. She and her much loved son Alexander, left us. 

You are welcome to send your tributes for Prof Costandius to Gera at for inclusion on this memorial page.

In Memoriam: Prof Elmarie Costandius

It is with profound sorrow that Stellenbosch University (SU) mourns the untimely passing of Prof Elmarie Costandius, a visionary academic and a beacon of inspiration within our community.

Costandius made an indelible mark at SU, said Dr Kathryn Smith, chair of the Visual Arts Department. “She originally joined us as a member of the Visual Communication Design division in 2006 and later spearheaded a unique master’s course specialising in Art Education which she led for the past decade.

“Elmarie taught through her research and inspired so many in her commitment to bringing the worlds of academic scholarship, creativity and community engagement closer together. Her work in SU’s groundbreaking Shared Humanity course had an enormous impact on students from diverse fields of study, introducing them to the ways in which art and design can forge greater social cohesion. Her influence reached across the entire university, and through the Visual Redress project her legacy is woven into SU’s transformation process,” Smith said.

Prof Anthony Leysens, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences said Costandius was at the forefront of visual redress and transformation on campus and a valued member of the faculty’s transformation committee. “She published extensively and widely on visual redress and social justice and hosted an international conference on visual redress in Africa early in December of 2023 which I opened. This was the last time I saw her. On behalf of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and myself I wish to convey our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family and the Department of Visual Arts,” Leysens said.

In 2023, Costandius was unanimously selected for the prestigious Teaching Advancement at Universities (TAU) Fellows Award, a testament to her outstanding commitment to the professionalisation of teaching and learning. Over the past decade, her dedication to the visual redress initiatives at SU resulted in tangible changes to the campus environment, from The Circle sculptures of women to benches adorned with welcoming messages in various South African languages.

Costandius fostered critical dialogue and awareness, emphasizing art-based methodologies to engage students, staff, and communities in transformative processes. In 2021 she co-authored a groundbreaking book entitled Evoking transformation: Visual redress at Stellenbosch University with Prof Aslam Fataar who currently heads the Committee for the Institutional Response to the Commission’s Recommendations (CIRCoRe) at SU.

Costandius was a distinguished academic with a remarkable record of accomplishments. She studied information design at the University of Pretoria and later completed a master’s degree in visual arts at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. She also held a master’s from the University of the Western Cape.

She earned her PhD in curriculum studies at SU in 2012, contributing significantly to academia through supervising numerous master’s and PhD students. Her extensive publication record, involvement in various research projects, and substantial funding secured showcased her unwavering commitment to academic excellence.

Costandius demonstrated a profound dedication to academic service, contributing as an external examiner, journal article reviewer and committee member. Her impact reached beyond the University’s borders, with research connections spanning institutions worldwide.

In addition to her academic pursuits, Costandius received multiple teaching awards and played a pivotal role in committees focused on social impact and institutional visual redress. Her influence extended to various international institutions, reflecting a commitment to diverse fields such as sustainable design, critical citizenship, and social impact.

SU extends its deepest condolences to Costandius’s family, friends, colleagues and students.


In Memoriam: Prof Elmarie Costandius 

Dit is met diepe hartseer dat die Universiteit Stellenbosch (US) die skielike heengaan van prof Elmarie Costandius, ‘n visioenêre akademikus en ‘n bron van inspirasie binne die US gemeenskap, betreur.

Costandius het ‘n onuitwisbare bydrae tot die US gemaak, het dr Kathryn Smith, voorsitter van die Visuele Kunste-departement, gesê. “Sy het aanvanklik in 2006 by ons aangesluit as lid van die Visuele Kommunikasie-ontwerp-afdeling en het later aan die spits gestaan ​​van ‘n unieke meestersgraadkursus met spesialisasie in Kunsonderwys.

“Elmarie se navorsing het uitdrukking gevind in haar onderrig en sy het vele geïnspireer deur haar onverpoosde toewyding om die wêrelde van die akademie, kreatiwiteit en gemeenskapsbetrokkenheid nader aan mekaar te bring. Haar werk in die US se vernuwende Gedeelde Mensheid-kursus (Shared Humanity) het ’n reuse-impak op studente van uiteenlopende studierigtings gehad en hulle blootgestel aan die maniere waarop kuns en ontwerp groter sosiale samehang kan bewerkstellig. Haar invloed het oor die hele Universiteit gestrek, en deur die Visuele Regstelling-projek is haar nalatenskap in die US se transformasieproses verewig,” het Smith gesê.

Prof Anthony Leysens, Dekaan van die Fakulteit Lettere en Sosiale Wetenskappe het gesê Costandius was aan die voorpunt van visuele regstelling en transformasie op kampus en ‘n gewaardeerde lid van die fakulteit se transformasiekomitee.

“Sy het breedvoerig oor visuele regstelling en sosiale geregtigheid gepubliseer. Vroeg in Desember 2023 het sy ‘n internasionale konferensie oor visuele regstelling in Afrika aangebied waar ek die openingsrede gelewer het. Dit was die laaste keer wat ek haar gesien het. Ek wil namens die Fakulteit Lettere en Sosiale Wetenskappe en myself ons diepste en innige meegevoel aan haar familie en die Departement Visuele Kunste betuig,” het Leysens gesê.

Verlede jaar is Costandius eenparig gekies vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Onderrigbevordering by Universiteite-genootskapstoekenning (OBU-genootskapstoekenning) vir 2023, bewys van haar aansien en uitstaande bydrae tot gehalte-onderrig en die professionalisering van onderrig en leer in die hoëronderwyssfeer.

Oor die afgelope dekade het haar geesdrif vir die visuele regstellingsinisiatiewe aan die US gelei tot etlike tasbare vernuwings op kampus, onder meer Die Sirkel-beeldhouwerke van vroue en publieke banke wat met verwelkomingsboodskappe in verskeie Suid-Afrikaanse tale versier is.

Costandius het kritiese dialoog en bewustheid bevorder met klem op kunsgebaseerde metodologieë om studente, personeel en gemeenskappe by transformasie te betrek. In 2021 was sy mede-outeur van ’n grensverskuiwende boek Evoking transformation: Visual redress at Stellenbosch University saam met prof Aslam Fataar wat tans aan die hoof staan ​​van die Komitee vir die Institusionele Reaksie op die (Khampepe-) Kommissie se Aanbevelings (CIRCoRe) by die US.

Costandius was ‘n vooraanstaande akademikus met ‘n merkwaardige akademiese rekord. Sy het inligtingsontwerp aan die Universiteit van Pretoria studeer en later ‘n meestersgraad in visuele kunste aan die Rietveld Akademie in Amsterdam voltooi. Sy het ook ‘n meestersgraad aan die Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland behaal.

Sy het in 2012 ‘n PhD in kurrikulumstudies aan die US verwerf en sedertdien het Costandius ’n groot aantal meesters- en PhD-studente begelei. Haar uitgebreide publikasierekord, betrokkenheid by verskeie navorsingsprojekte en haar aansienlike bydrae om navorsingsbefondsing te bekom, is tekenend van haar onwrikbare verbintenis tot akademiese uitnemendheid.

Costandius het ook uitgeblink as ‘n eksterne eksaminator, keurder van akademiese artikels en lid van verskeie organisasies. Sy het ver buite US se grense ’n impak gemaak en ’n wye netwerk van verbintenisse met internasionale akademici gesmee.

Benewens haar akademiese prestasies, het Costandius ook verskeie onderrigtoekennings ontvang en ‘n deurslaggewende rol gespeel in komitees wat gemoeid is met sosiale impak en institusionele visuele regstelling. Sy het ook internasionaal erkenning gekry, nie net in kunskringe nie maar ook in uiteenlopende dissiplines soos volhoubare ontwerp, kritiese burgerskap en sosiale impak.

SU betuig ons innige meegevoel met Costandius se familie, vriende, kollegas en studente.