05 December 2011

Remembering David Branson

On Sunday 11 December, The Street Theatre in Canberra is hosting an afternoon to celebrate David Branson's memory.

It's been ten years since David died in a car accident in Canberra.

I met the unforgettable David in 2001 when I was working in Canberra as the Manager of FoCA5, the fifth Festival of Contemporary Art. As I was new to the city, it took David about a second to decide that he was to be my guide to independent artists in and from our capital.

Over the next weeks, he spent a lot of time in my Gorman House office or at the cafe telling me how wonderful everyone was. He was usually right and without his passion, his personal and professional support, and his active contribution, FoCA5 would have been a far less interesting event and I may not have smiled so much in the lead up.

For all his performances, my favourite remains a Saturday at the Gorman House Markets when he was busking with the newly formed Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen. A group gathered on the grass as three besuited gents (it was just David, Mikel and Phil that day) charmed gold coins from us and hinted at just how wonderful this group would become.

I also remember being in my kitchen and hearing on the TV news that there was a car accident on Anzac Parade and deciding not to look. I wonder if I'd have recognised the green Tarago?  Early the next morning, I heard that it was David's life that was lost and Canberra's shaken arts community gravitated to The Street in disbelief.

It doesn't seem like ten years. I'm still friends with artists I met through David and have followed the careers of many others whose work he insisted that I see.

The Street is putting on a barbeque and there will be performances, stories and music to remember this remarkable man. It will be followed by a very special performance by Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen and I have no doubt that Senor Handsome will have his violin and join in.

David, I only knew you for a few months, but I still miss you and am proud to have been your friend.

Photo by 'pling

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