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SANTRY, Denis

Born: 1879 05 14
Died: 1960 04 14

Architect

SACA:
Reg No: 1208
Year registered: 1950

Was born at Cork, Ireland. According to his RIBA nomination papers he was articled to JF McMullen MSA in Cork in 1895 and was the Arnott Scholar, Cork Municipal School of Art from 1894 until 1896. He was apprenticed as a young man to a joiner before he won a national art bursary enabling him to study at the Royal School of Art in Kensington, London. A few discrepancies and additional information appear in his papers applying for membership of the Institute of South African Architects in 1950: Lane Scholar at the Royal College (School) of Art from 1897 to 1898, and his return to work as an assistant to McMullen in Cork from 1899 until 1901. He apparently came to South Africa on account of his ill health at the end of 1901. He found work in Cape Town as a draughtsman in the office of TULLY & WATERS where he was from 1901 until 1902. Following this he appears to have worked in William BLACK's office in Cape Town for about a year and then is said to have worked as an architect in Cape Town until June 1910, it is not known whether he was working on his own or, more likely, in someone's office. A note from the Natal Provincial Institute of Architects in his ISAA papers states that Santry 'practised in Cape Town 1902, did one job'; Santry states he worked for a year in Cape Town: 'in or about the month of July 1902 till in or about the month of June 1910 I practised inter alia as an Architect at Cape Town in the Province of the Cape of Good Hope' (sworn affidavit, Durban 1949, ISAA Papers). In about 1910 he changed direction, turning towards what became his career, the drawing of cartoons and doing silver work and film work in South Africa.

Branching out on his own, he joined the Sunday Times and became well-known as a cartoonist under the name of Adam. During the First World War his drawings were reproduced all over the world. He fostered a school of South African design in Cape Town specialising in beaten copper and brass ware. He moved to Johannesburg (n.d.) where he had a house designed for him by Herbert BAKER's office, BAKER & FLEMING (drawings drwn up by JM SOLOMON), Kleine Schuur in Rhodes Avenue, Johannesburg (1910). Santry was a pioneer of animated cartoons in South Africa and applied to go to America, but was refused entry on medical grounds.

In 1918 he joined Swan & McLaren, architects, as a partner in Singapore, remaining in Singapore until he retired in 1934 to England, 'to indulge at leisure my hobbies - Sculpture and Silverwork' (ISAA Papers:29 Mar 1949). In 1940 he returned to South Africa on account of his health and resumed practice after the Second World War, owing to loss of income through the Japanese occupation of the Malay States. He was admitted to the Institute of South African Architects in 1950. He executed a number of private houses near Hillcrest, Natal where he lived at Slamat, Hospital Road, Hillcrest. Santry was one time President of the Institute of Architects of Malaya. He was also a prime movers in the formation of the Singapore Society of Architects (1923) and of the later Institute of Architects of Malaya (1930). He was founder and chairman of the Singapore Musical Society and of the first Art Club in Singapore. He was the Governor's nominee on the Committee of Appeal for Film Censorship. His papers at the ISAA give details of work he did in Malaya. He died in Durban.

(ISAA mem list; Keith 1991: 193; NAD MSCE 1075/60; SESA 3-115b)

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1906 entry in Men of the Times

MR. DENIS SANTRY was born at Cork, Ireland, twenty-seven years ago. He received his education in his native city, and subsequently studied Art at the Royal School of Art, South Kensington, London, at which institution he secured several prizes and scholarships.

In 1897 he returned to the land of his birth, where he entered the office of Mr. J. F. McMullen, C.E., a well-known civil engineer and architect. Here Mr. Santry remained till 1902, when, owing to ill health, he decided to emigrate to South Africa. Shortly after his arrival he entered the service of Messrs. TULLY and WATERS, architects, with whom he remained for some time, leaving to take up an appointment with Mr W. BLACK, C.E., but, like many other young men, he soon decided to start for himself, and in 1903 started to practice as a civil engineer and architect, but a love for his art caused Mr. Santry to soon devote all his time to it, and for the past three years he has given practically all his time to the fostering of a South African School of Design and Craftwork. His sketches and cartoons in the local papers, under the nom-de-plume of "Adam," are decidedly clever and amusing. Mr. Santry, however, does not confine himself to black and white work, and it is, perhaps, as a worker in metals that he is best known. His hammered copper and brass work is perhaps the finest that has even been exhibited in the country. In fact, Mr. Santry may well claim to be the pioneer of the applied Arts in South Africa. It might here be mentioned that he is also well known as a designer of lace work. He is a member of the Society of Arts, London, and Council member of the South African Society of Artists.

He married, in 1904, Madeline, third daughter of John Hegarty, Esq., of "City View," Cork.

(Men of the Times 1906: 374)

Submitted by William MARTINSON

There is also an entry for SANTRY in the Dictionary of Irish Architects.

Books citing SANTRY

ISAA. 1959. The Yearbook of the Institute of South African Architects and Chapter of SA Quantity Surveyors 1958-1959 : Die Jaarboek van die Instituut van Suid-Afrikaanse Argitekte en Tak van Suid-Afrikaanse Bourekenaars 1958-1959. Johannesburg: ISAA. pp 96, 224

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 107

Transvaal Publishing Co. 1906. Men of the Times : Old Colonists of the Cape Colony and Orange River Colony. Johannesburg, Cape Town and London: The Transvaal Publishing Co. pp 374