Harold Strachan was born in 1925 in Pretoria. He obtained a BA (FA) from the University if Pretoria, and won an Emma Smith Scholarship to study at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, London, and at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Kunste in Stuttgart, Germany. As an artist, Strachan worked closely with Selby Mvusi in the 1950s.

Strachan was an anti-apartheid activist and was one of the few early members of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the ANC, during apartheid. He trained MK cadres in explosives, and his anti-government stance led him to house-bannings and prison terms during the 1960s and 1970s. Before his arrest, he worked underground with Govan Mbeki in the Port Elizabeth area and was involved in publishing a newsletter.

Due to Strachan’s political commitments, he had little opportunity to truly manifest himself as an artist during the struggle. However, he is now represented in the Durban Art Gallery collection and in private collections in South Africa.

Strachan published a book called ‘Way Up, Way Out’ in 1998. The book was the first of an autobiographical trilogy about growing up in South Africa between the two World Wars.

References

Evans, D. (1998). Review of Way Up, Way Out. Sunday Times: Arts & Entertainment [Online] 10 May. Available at: literarytourism.co.za. [Accessed 24 February 2009]|South African History Online archive|Strachan’s testimony at a TRC hearing on Johannesburg Prison’s [Online]. Available at: justice.gov.za [Accessed 24 February 2009]

Collections in the Archives