Centre keeps art alive for kids
PAINTED photocopies of children’s faces, pencil drawings of interesting looking animals and cardboard sculptures of township scenes are among the artworks that went on show at the Children’s Art Centre in Zonnebloem.
The centre’s story is one of hope. It is dedicated to keeping art alive and nurturing talent among the disadvantaged communities in Cape Town.
Ayesha Price, principal at the centre which opened in 1945 in District Six, said it presently offers art classes to primary school pupils who pay R30 a year.
“We have 2 300 children at the centre a year.”
The centre is one of a handful of art schools that the provincial government staffs to ensure art classes for public schools that do not have the money to run these.
Alexis Hanslo, who has been a teacher at the school for 39 years, said that she has seen art “add value to everyday life”.
She said: “We have had students who have become hugely successful. They’ve become graphic designers, architects and even a whole family of doctors. Some now bring their children to the centre for classes.
“It would be sad if art was excluded from the lives of these children because so many have made it part of their careers.”
Hanslo is one year short of retiring and has seen the centre through a number of crises. She said that it was demolished under the Group Areas Act segregation laws in 1969 because it was a “coloured children’s art centre in a white area”.
“We were in Woodstock which then became an area for whites only. We were told that we were in the wrong place. We could accept only coloured people. Not because there weren’t other people interested in coming but because that was the law.
“The principal was informed that the Woodstock hospital in Victoria Street needed the ground for an extension. But if you drive past there today the land is still vacant.”
The centre was resuscitated when a priest from England offered it land on Anglican church property in Zonnebloem in the early 1970s. It remains on this site.
Some of the pupils whose work is on show shared their love for art.
Laeeq Steenkamp, 8, is a Grade 3 pupil at Rahmaniyeh Primary School in the area. He walked into the exhibition space and said: “It’s nice to see a lot of pictures around me.”
Dean Lee, 11, in Grade 6 at Holy Cross Primary School, said that he wants to “be an artist when I’m big”.
“I like drawing. It’s That means it’s nice.”
ALIVE: Colourful butterflies are part of this year’s Children’s Art Centre exhibtion.
ART SHOW: The Children's Art Centre exhibiting its annual display of artwork from six surrounding schools.