Some children create art on a whim, others to kill time on a rainy day but little Florence Wilkinson set her chisel to a piece of stone because she wanted nothing more than to replace her parents’ soapstone wedding gift; which she had accidently doomed to a shattered existence.
Wilkinson, noble in her pursuits and determined to boot, joined a horde of girls and garrulous parents to view her creation at the Kids Art Exhibition held at the Omba Gallery last week. Featuring the works from the tourism expo’s John Muafangejo Arts Centre (JMAC) stall, the gallery played host to the whimsy and wonder of a child’s imagination, as filtered through art, while presenting a darling debut of Windhoek’s young Mattisess and Monets in the making.
In a bid to create awareness of visual arts and institutions, the JMAC arts stall, funded by the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, provided a space in which participants could explore their creativity and experiment with different visual art techniques in the fields of photography, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and painting. Mentoring by local masters was an added boon and artists such as Foibe Amundaba, Fillemon Kapolo, Actofel Ilovu, Alfeus Mvula, David Amukoto and Norman Skrywer offered advice and instruction in textiles, ceramics, painting, sculpture and photography respectively.
What prevailed was the colour pink. An explicit though pleasing presentation of pink which saw proud parents extolling the virtues of art in a way that cunning children will recall should they be greeted with grief when they present art as their career choice one stern and surprising day. Doomsday aside; one would have been pleased to see that Florence was not the only one who whittled away at her creation and instead joined a hive of a dozen children who happily ushered all who would listen to view their extravagant efforts in painting and ceramics. Participants were even more abuzz to find that prints of their painted tiles were framed and on sale having been made into massive checked murals that incorporated their individual contribution into fascinating wall hangings.
Those who painted textiles with Foibe Amundaba were further enchanted to see how renowned local designer, Chakkirah Claasen had taken their blue and white fabric paintings and sewn them into sensational summer dresses and skirts for children and adults alike. Indeed, the possibilities of art must have seemed endless and this was mostly true of the work of the ceramics participants whose imagination found release in the form of ceramic snowmen, hearts, cats, stars, aeroplanes, fish, snails and bowls; lovingly and proudly made for a mantle’s pleasure.
Though most of the work was executed in shades of pink and the exhibition was attended entirely by young girls, one must not lament the absence of males in Namibia’s next artistic generation. Indeed, the rogue ceramic aeroplane, car and crazy cartoon character offered some hope for our males’ creative future but it was a little disappointing that there was not a single male participant in attendance to view their art... or the young females.
Director of JMAC, M’kariko Amagulu couldn’t have been more pleased and has high hopes for next year’s tourism expo stall. “I think in today’s world, we forget about our creativity and the things that make us alive, so I think this was a great addition to the expo and a great way to raise awareness of the arts within the youth,” said Amagulu adding that, “Over the years, I have really seen such growth in the arts and this just indicates that people are yearning to be human again, so we are definitely going to see more art explosions in the future.”
To a group of inspired and somewhat impatient young girls, Amagulu stated further that: “Art has a lot of psychological benefits and it is an avenue for us to show our internal self and not just move to the music society.” Perhaps flying a little over the youth’s heads, adults and parents in the audience seemed thoroughly stirred by Amagulu’s words and not only did they express enthusiasm about next year’s JMAC stall but they could also be overheard telling their children about how they used to paint when they were younger.
Nostalgic or new, each and every secret and starter artist in the room was bathed in a sense of innocent inspiration. Even though one can’t be sure that lapsed artists went home to make a beeline for a long forgotten paintbrush, one can be convinced that there was certainly something special about parents astride children filled with the wonder of creation.
The Kids Art Exhibition is in residence at the Omba Gallery from the 7th of December 2011 until the 10th of January 2012