A picture paints a thousand words

  • Posted: Apr 17, 2014

A visit to the Iziko South African National Gallery by learners from the Mary Harding School for the Intellectually Impaired took place on 19 February 2014. Sponsored by Truworths Social Involvement Trust, the visit was conducted by facilitators for the Meaningful Access Projects’ Helen Binckes and Mariechen Schimmel. Held regularly at Iziko gallery spaces, initiatives like these give opportunities to learners who would otherwise not have easy access to art galleries, interacting with art, and experiencing the joy that art brings.

In the Gallery Annexe, Bevil Spence involved the children in a related music workshop, and Mariechen Schimmel led the practical art workshop entitled “FACE IT”, which entailed the learners making portrait collages.Looking at various portraits during the walkabout in the Gallery showed the learners different interpretations of portraits in terms of media, perspective and size. They were then given the challenge in the art room to "make" their own face. To achieve this, the learners had to feel their faces first to discover the "ins and outs" of the "landscape" of a face. The receding parts of the face would be interpreted in the darkest colour while the most protruding parts would be white. Intermediate colours could be used for the "in between" surfaces. Using the medium of paper, which learners tore, the image would be built up from large shapes to small, using colour to create depth and dimension. While it was not expected that these principles would be remembered, let alone applied, it was a different approach that did not require realism, and in that way it was not threatening to the learners, some of whom have mental ages as young as about 5 years. 

Schimmel thanked Truworths for their sponsorship, “without which these children would never have the opportunity to experience the emotional awakenings and to feel special, unique, appreciated and uplifted.” With the generous support of our social partners, Iziko Museums of South Africa will continue to provide the exhibitions that educate and entertain learners of all ages and abilities.

The Meaningful Access Projects (MAP) is an independent organisation comprising a team of experienced art, music and dance educators. Selected multi-sensory, cross-disciplinary workshop visits are arranged in association with Iziko Museums of South Africa as well with at other museums and appropriate venues in Cape Town for learners who live with disabilities.


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