On Sunday 1st March the late Christiaan Vis, former Head of Art at the College, was remembered in a celebratory event at Orlagh Estate. A large number of family, former colleagues, friends and former pupils attended.
Reverend Michael Heaney, former Chaplain at the College, thanked Hudia Vis and her family for inviting everyone, and then handed over to the Sub-Warden, Julian Girdham, who read out a series of comments from Old Columbans about the impact Chris had had on them: “His classes were the highlight of the week”, “His art classes to me meant freedom. Freedom of expression, to push boundaries, from the confines of the regulated SCC life”, “His sense of humour was wicked but kind”, “A great teacher, always honest and funny”, “An inspiration and a shepherd to me in my callow teenage years”, were typical of the comments.
Michael Heaney then read out a wonderful tribute from Tim Macey, former Warden (who could not be present), including these observations:
He was very respectful, welcoming and polite, yet I got the distinct impression that he was frequently having to suppress a little chuckle at the bizarre formalities of College life. In fact this ambiguity may have been at the heart of his great success as Art teacher at the College. He certainly had a great sense of humour and there must have been many occasions when it was badly needed.
He was wise and thoughtful, independent and sound in judgement, in every respect the mature senior member of staff, yet at any moment that impish teenager would reassert himself, to the amusement and enrichment of us all. I remember Chris with great respect as artist and teacher, with affection as colleague and with the warmest thanks for the laughter and colour that he brought into all our lives. To Hudia and to all those very close to him, I can barely begin to imagine your loss. I hope nevertheless that the warmth that we all feel in our memories of him, even those of us who did not know him really well, will stay with you always. He was a blessing to us all.
Michael Heaney followed up with prayers, and then there was a further tribute from OC Charlie Hackett, read out by artist Anthony Lyttle, and Chris’s daughter Grainne and son Leonard also spoke, thanking all for their kindness.
To get a good sense of Chris, check out the video interview below from the year 2000 by his colleague Morgan Dockrell, filmed by Garry Bannister.