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The hidden secret in the Battiss Museum

One of the catalogued items brought by Battiss for the opening of the Museum in October 1981, is a simply framed set of Fook stamps. Written on the back, in Battiss’ handwriting - “These stamps are temporarily mounted over my favourite drawing by Wopko Jensma 10-10-1981.”

Wopko Jensma was a multi-talented poet and artist who, in 1993, aged 54, left a Salvation Army home, and was never seen again. He was said to be schizophrenic, and this had impacted on his ability to create art. At some stage, his death had to be presumed.

Stephan Hundt, curator of the Sanlam art collection, had a quick look inside the frame when he was at the Battiss Museum; something is folded up there, but it will obviously need professional art restorers to open it up and deal with the folded paper inside.

So, two art mysteries are involved here; one day, perhaps, the secret Walter Battiss framed along with his stamps will be solved.

The baffling mystery of Jensma’s disappearance will probably remain just that – a tragic mystery.

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