Cen­tre keeps art alive for kids


Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODFARE - YAZEED KAMAL­DIEN

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.

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