Dorrit Dekk, RIP
My dear Dorrit Dekk has died, and I wanted to share my memory of this joyful, cheeky and incredible artist with you. She’s someone we can all to look up to as an inspiration to live our lives to the fullest.
Dorrit died at 97. She was creating art right up until her death, despite being wheelchair bound after a stroke and having one arm restricted by a splint. I first met her three years ago at a party where her art was being sold, and she requested to draw me naked. I was taken aback, not by the request to draw me naked (I’m used to that!), but that a women of 94 could light up and entertain a whole room with twice the energy of those half her age. Of course I said yes, though in the end I decided not to go in the buff and wore my uniform of a mini dress dress and the clompy boots that she loved.
She would have taken a couple of minutes on this picture, and created around 20 images in our whole sitting – but it’s just so incredible the way she truly captured me – my body, my essence. Her work was full of as much irreverence as the woman herself…
…One of my favourite stories about Dorrit is when she asked my boyfriend if he used glow-in-the-dark-condoms. No one could ever accuse Dorrit of being prudish!
Dorrit was luminous. Think ‘inner beauty’ is a cliché? You never met Dorrit: the first impressions of all who met her was how beautiful she was. She retained this beauty throughout her life because her light never dimmed.
She was always regaling us with stories of famous artists who fell under her spell. As an attractive, stylish and intelligent woman, she was such a catch that she had to meet editors and commissioners for lunch – dinner led to all sorts of proposals that she was keen to avoid.
But Dorrit had seen darkness. Her father was murdered in Auschwitz by the Nazis as, unlike her, he didn’t manage to escape Czechoslovakia in time. Dorrit survived two dearly loved husbands and life became much harder after her stroke – for someone with so much joie de vivre, being confined to a wheelchair made her frustrated and claustrophobic.
However, she was determinedly upbeat and unerringly curious, which gave her an ability to extract the most potential from every day.
Everyone who knew her loved her and would leave a visit to her feeling energised and a little in awe: I’ll certainly never forget my visits to Dorrit at her flat. She carried on making her bedroom into a nest lined with her own inimitable art…Everywhere I looked, there was a new figure smiling at me from a frame or a souvenir from exotic travels. She never failed to be wearing her finest colourful scarves and socks, her snowy white hair soft and her radiant skin cared for with Oil of Olay.
The last time I saw Dorrit, she was in hospital. Despite being in extreme pain, she still wanted to make her visitors feel loved and entertained, telling us stories and admiring our outfits. She’s given me so much determination to get the most I possibly can from life.
I will never forget her – nor will i ever forget the way she made me feel as I left one of our visits – full of her energy, inspiration and love.
Here’s a much more detailed obituary about her in The Guardian by Naomi Games: