Friday, 6 July 2012

"Thembelihle = We have Hope" by Liz Speight 9 - 28 July 2012

Thembelihle = We have Hope  

Paintings by Liz Speight

Artist’s Statement

Last year I volunteered to teach Art at Thembelihle School in Howick. This school was started at the beginning of that year. The Methodist Church was already running a Pre-primary School called Thembelihle Pre-Primary on their premises, which had been going for several years. Joyce Ntuli was running a Primary School in Containers in the local township, Kwa Mevana. At the end of 2010 she was told to vacate the premises. She was faced with trying to find alternative schools for 150 pupils at short notice. She prayed with the class. The mother of one of the pupils in the class worked for someone in the Methodist Church. They organized the purchase of HADCA House, which was for sale as HADCA had moved to new premises, donated by a deceased estate. HADCA stands for Howick And District Care for the Aged. The Methodist Church built classrooms and ablution blocks and Thembelihle School opened in January 2010. One of the Methodist Church members belonged to HARTS, Howick Art Society, and at their monthly meeting had asked for volunteers to teach art at Thembelihle. Ruth Fairlamb volunteered, but health problems due to old age, forced her to hand over to someone younger. I took photographs of the children while she was teaching, in order to memorize their names. However, these photographs served a much wider purpose than just that. Apart from being an affirmation of themselves that each child received when I stuck their image on their art books, those images confronted me with the reality of each person. I realized how beautiful each child was, and how much potential was there. I could see their history in their faces, emotions brought on by certain situations. I spent a year teaching those children Art. They learnt a bit about Art. I learnt a lot about teaching. This exhibition is to commemorate a very rich experience. It is also a tribute to each individual involved.

It is also the continuation of a theme, which I began when I participated in the Nivea StART Award exhibition at KZNSA in 2005. There my focus was on the young black tellers working in SPAR, Howick. To me they represented the rise of a new phenomenon in South Africa, smart young blacks. In Howick, one is aware of the aging white population and the burgeoning young black population. The words of Isaiah the prophet, spoken to the exiled Israelites, rings true for our time here in South Africa.

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