Letter from Liesl Hartmann – Principal of Frank Joubert Art Centre

ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN WORKSHOPS AT THE FRANK JOUBERT ART CENTRE CAPE TOWN – MARCH /APRIL 2014

Liesl Hartmann is the Principal of the South African CICLO partner Frank Joubert Art Centre. She has wrote following letter on how the CICLO artist exchange of product designer Nild Regout and architect Julie Dufour Wiese was received in Cape Town.

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 A learner with her model from the Parkfields Primary School

Nild Regout and Julie Dufour Wiese from the Children’s Culture House in Copenhagen facilitated three- dimensional model-making workshops to a variety of groups and schools serviced by the Frank Joubert Art Centre (FJAC) in and around Cape Town from 25 March until 7 April 2014. This project was undertaken as part of the international arts educational exchange between schools in Copenhagen, Cape Town, St Petersburg and Rio called CICLO and supported by UNESCO.

The learners in each of the groups taught by Julie and Nild were asked to imagine the kinds of structures and spaces that they would like to have in their neighbourhoods, schools or immediate surroundings and to make scale models of these structures using a variety of materials (cardboard and construction paper, sticks, toothpicks, beads, string). This process gave the learners  the opportunity to re-imagine  their living spaces and to create their dreams of creative play areas, recreational and sports facilities, beautiful houses and homes, gardens and green spaces; spaces that represented enjoyment, freedom and, most importantly, safety.

The learners were engaged in the activity from the moment they began and in most cases did not want to stop when the workshop ended. For many of these learners who come from poor, working-class communities this was a unique opportunity to express their ideas and give their dreams concrete form through the model-making process.   In this important year for Cape Town as the World Design Capital for 2014, the project has also stimulated children to think about their own abilities as designers and the possibilities for learning that could open up for them as they progress through school.

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Julie Wiese with learners from FJAC Extra Mural Department

During this project, learners were constantly spoken to about proportion, scale, space and measurement. Julie suggested to teachers how this activity could be used to underscore and teach basic principals in numeracy and Mathematics. Learners were also asked to present their models at the end of the workshop and speak about the work that they had made. This part of the project could easily be extended into writing exercises linked especially to Life Skills and Social Sciences with so many connections and ideas connected to the present South African National School Curriculum (the NCS CAPS curriculum).

Intrinsic to the vision of Frank Joubert art centre and our Ibhabhathane project *is to give our learners a vision of life that can be improved by empowering children to express their ideas in a positive way through quality art(s) and design education.   If as art educators we are relentless in our vision to create critically thinking young people who are sensitive to their environment and those they share it with, then I believe that the tide of violent crime and poverty that is experienced in some of our communities in Cape Town, can be addressed in a positive way by the same young people that we are educating. These are the children that, as adults, will become the custodians of our communities in the future.

It has been an exciting two weeks working with Julie and Nild and sharing their passion for art and design education. It has been wonderful to see them generously give their time materials and expertise to the children and also teachers in Cape Town.

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 Liesl Hartman speaking to learners from the Children’s Art Centre about their models

It has been a privilege to share the platform with them and Olaf Gerlach Hansen, Senior consultant from the Danish Cultural Institute as we launched the CICLO Project at the Cape Town Education Indaba. I believe that through projects like these, where we connect with our international partners and colleagues that the quality of our teaching will enrich and inspire us as art and design teachers.  Hopefully this is the beginning of many more fruitful collaborations.

(*) Ibhabhathane is the non-profit organisation attached to the FJAC that provides access to quality visual art and design education to learners and teachers from under-resourced schools in the broader Cape Town area. It also currently provides teacher training to teachers across South Africa.  

Participating Schools:

Isilimela High School in Langa

Parkfields Primary in Hanover Park

Heritage College in Lansdowne

The Children’s Art Centre in Cape Town

The Extra Mural Department of the Frank Joubert Art Centre

 

 

 

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