New Critical Model in Arts Education

The CHR’s interest in the Community Arts Project (CAP) stretches back to 2009, when it acquired an important and historic body of artworks – the CAP Collection. The collection, which consists of an estimated 3,500 paintings, prints, posters, sculptures and drawings by various artists, mostly represents Cape Town’s contribution to the South African visual counterculture movement of the 1980s.

To date, two exhibitions drawing on the CAP Collection, now housed at the UWC-Robben Island Mayibuye Archives at UWC, have been curated, both by Emile Maurice, resident curator at the CHR – ‘Uncontained: Opening the Community Arts Project Archive’ (Art.b Gallery, Bellville, and Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, 2012/13) and ‘Interruptions: Posters from the Community Arts Project’ (Open Design Festival, Cape Town City Hall, 2014). The first of these shows was accompanied by a book of the same title.

Both ‘Uncontained’ and ‘Interruptions’ raised issues around agency, cultural activism, empowerment, received categories of hierarchical distinction, such as the high art/low art dichotomy, exclusions and omissions from the South African art canon, and the desire of the politically subjugated to be human through creativity. As all archives open to the future, these exhibitions also sought to raise concerns pertaining to notions affecting the human in the postapartheid present, among them the collapse of the community arts movement in South Africa after 1994, the erosion of a broad-based cultural citizenship, the hyper-professionalism of the art world in which arts and culture function as mega-business (as distinct from the idea of art as a process of humanisation and empowerment), and the decline of creative education in an instrumentalised world, weighted towards science and business education.

During the process of archiving, accessioning and photographing the works from the CAP collection, and also curating the two exhibitions, there was an intense interest in the idea of reigniting the old CAP in the postapartheid, particularly as opportunities for community arts education, and the affordable cultural development and growth of people, are few and far between. In mid-2014 the CHR began discussing the idea of a creative hub at the Lydia Williams Centre with CAP with arts benefactor and trustee at UWC, Fred Robertson.

Itumeleng Wa-Lehulere (Convener of the Factory of the Arts and Theatre Director), Dathini Mzayiya (artist), Reza Khota (musician) and Paul Grendon (photographer) moved into studios at the Lydia Williams Centre for Memory and will serve as mentors at the CHR’s Factory of the Arts. The Ukwanda Puppet and Design Company, formerly the Masiphumelele Youth Development Theatre Group, are also housed at the Factory. All of them will not only be producing work as they, as mentors of the Factory of the Arts, will also offer art education programmes to aspirant artists and learners.

Arts Education Activities from 5 March to 14 May 2016

Arts education workshops were conducted with twenty Grade 10 learners of Chris Hani and Luhlaza Secondary schools from Khayelitsha. Co-ordinated by Siphokazi Mpofu of Ukwanda Puppet and Design company, the programme was taught by members of Ukwanda and artist, Dathini Mzayiya. Itumeleng Wa Lehulere offered support in developing the script of the puppet performance and staging of the final production.

On 20 March, Ukwanda Puppet and Design Company performed with Slyza, a giant puppet, at the Cape Town Carnival. Ukwanda translated the art of storytelling into a form of dance by choreographing the Slyza puppet in the form of Pantsula, a unique South African style of dancing.
Dathini Mzayiya, visual artist in residence at the Factory of the Arts, showed large-scale multimedia works in an exhibition, Otherwise, at the Sosesame gallery in Melville from 26 April to 2 June.

Two puppeteers from Ukwanda, Luyanda Nogodlwana and Ncedile Daki, were hosted by the Centre for the Study of Global Change, University of Minnesota, between 15 April – 2 May, to work with In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre Company as part of a collaboration on puppet-making and performance.

Related News:

From Mozambique to the Cape: Performance Encounters in Music, Masks, Movement, Poetry and Painting

The Reza Khota Quartet with live art by Dathini Mzayiya

Images from Factory of the Arts

Animation of Dathini making a drawing of Emile Maurice