Sunday, March 17, 2013


Pencil Sketch by Zelda Davidson

Those of you familiar with Scot Peck’s work, “The Road less travelled “ is reported to have said “ life is difficult, acknowledge it and move with it” . There is no perfection on this side of heaven but there are tools freely available that one can use in coping.

Just recently BBC has been running a series on THE POWER OF ART .
There is growing evidence that art has therapeutic benefits . The example given is that of a leukaemia patient who said his art therapy classes made him feel like he could do anything! Nothing else could compare to this escape.

 Art involvement has been known to boost one s immune system because of its positive psychoneuro immunologic response.

In teaching I have documented how students feel like a spin-wheel, dislocated and frustrated with self and the world. They leave more connected and more at peace.

Calendar, photographer unknown
Recently I gave Zelda Davidson an exercise to do in class before continuing onto painting. A big mummy elephant behind the little babe. I was fascinated at her interpretation of it. In Davidson s drawing the babe has become the focus of the artwork. It is bigger in the foreground and has been well worked and moulded. It's very lines and shading is testament to the time spent forming this youngster. It was not surprising that Davidson focused on this element of the image as she had just returned from settling both her children in another city 1660 km away from home. This was her first experience of the "empty nest syndrome".

 The mother as in her image fades away into the distance and no longer stands beside the youngster but behind it, allowing the youngster to have it's turn on centre stage. I am reminded here of the bible verse..." train up a child in the way s/he should go and when s/he is old s/he shall not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) . We all have to trust in this process called life. With it comes it's seasons and it's cycles.

 Zelda Davidson is a remarkable women and mother and artist. Watch this space. One day I will link her name to her own website.

This is what Zelda had to say of the exercise"... it was for me a connective piece to my emotions. Interacting with art on a deeper level is much more fascinating, and therapeutic, and gives us the chance to connect the physical with spiritual and emotional dimensions of self. Often we are developing skills in art, attempting to make a “good copy” or “rendition” or “interpretation” of something, but art gives us a far wider and deeper opportunity to “connect”. For me this exercise drew me – the whole of me – in."

I have observed in the past one of my family members battling with the death of a beloved animal and it was writing that brought him to a place of peace.

One of the top military hospitals in Washington D.S use writing as a therapeutic tool for soldiers sent to Afghanistan suffering from post traumatic stress Disorder. Some go as far as to say that “ Writing eventually saved them” (BBC  feb, 2013)

In the latest IDEAS magazine(March 2013) there is conclusive evidence that art and craft aids one in making sense of everything.  Whether Art is used as a form of creative outlet in opposition to the rituals and routine of daily living, or it might be used to look internally, as a tool for introspection, for getting acquainted to self. Peace may be found in the "soothing rhythm" of knitting or the gentle brushstrokes onto a canvas. It might be found in the act of writing, of painting, of transferring thought through the brain, down the arm into the hand and onto another surface. 


What is the value of Art in Society today.

As governments and organisations increasingly have to justify spending, the big question remains: does investment in the arts stimulate growth, or are the arts the product of economic development?

By Art, I include fine arts, performing arts with it drama, singing, choreography, film, media, and writing too. 

It is documented that Arts and culture in the US, by visiting a gallery or buying a ticket to the theatre alone generated approximately $135.2 billion and supported about 4.1 million jobs in the year 2010 alone.(Economic snapshot from "Americans for the Arts")

Think tanks( the US Bureau of Economic Analysis .BEA) in cities are coming together to try to find some way to measure the economic impact of the Arts. They are predominantly exploring the link between the arts and job creation and also " the happiness factor " of the individual.

"Often the people who are attracted to the arts are highly educated and mobile. They will increase consumption. They will increase the local tax base and bring employers to the area.(Jane O Brian.BBC News)  

It makes sense that the arts alone cannot pull up an impoverished society but  there is research being made to prove that enjoying art can boost the economy. It can also stimulate the environment and attract people to want to live in those communities. Again research shows that people are smarter at work because they’re in a more creative , vibrant cultural scene.(Impressa Economics. President Joe Cortright)

Mona Brookes, art educator and psychologist, has had incredible results by bringing art into the work place, bringing the arts into the corporate world. She has impacted many fields including business men in the States seeking innovative ways of thinking. Mona has worked out the link between art and lateral thinking and creative businessmen/women. 

Without art life would be dull. Buildings would be concrete and walls bare and expressionless. 
There is something beautiful about being able to create and being able to receive a created item.
Perhaps Art is the fragrance around us to lift us up and remind us that there is hope, we all have voices and everyONEcounts.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I was recently asked to open the new venture of Culture@Kearsney College. In essence this means that Kearsney would like to showcase the talents of all high school children. They are wanting to provide schools a platform to allow children the opportunity to benchmark themselves against others. The focus would be on participation rather than competition. There would be no losers nor winners. A different and very much needed new outlook indeed.

The evening began with subtle musical tunes being played whilst folk viewed the art from various High Schools in and around Durban. Some really good pieces! The Choir got me going with a dance in my step whilst the beat of the drum reverberated into my core. I was reminded of the pull that art has for me. The goosebumps felt when I stand before my canvas as a conductor does before the Orchestra, conducting the many instruments of possibilities.

HURRY! If you are in the area, you can still see the Art Exhibition inside the Greyhound Pavilion until 15 March.

On week days it will be open from 09:00 to 16:00.

The Art Exhibition will be followed by photography under the support of the Mathew Willman Visual Arts foundation before going into the dramatic nuances of the Performing Arts. Singing and Dance will tantalise and inspire many I am sure. The successful Battle of the Bands will take place under this culture@Kearsney and finally the Arts and English language curriculum will overlap in the slam poetry events.

Well done to the initiators of this project. The Arts and Culture team headed by Andrea Fripp with Jolene Ostendorf, Kearsney Clubs and Culture, Senior and Junior Art teacher  Glenda Pitcher and Tracy van den Aardweg and principal Mr van den Aardweg. What incredibly passionate people. Insightful and determined to bring about a balanced generation of young people.

 I'll be blogging more about the impact that Art has on society, on it's economic climate, on it's therapeutic benefits and it's ability to bring about social awareness and change... but for now the applause goes to this valuable venture...