Sparking children’s imaginations at Norval

Moshesh Primary School pupils view a piece by Esther Mahlangu at the Norval Foundation.

Children from a Langa primary school experienced the magic of art and storytelling at the Norval Foundation’s Children’s Art Book Fair, last week

The 75 Grade 4s from Moshesh Primary School spent a good part of last Friday with authors, artists and academics as they toured the contemporary-art museum, which exhibits the work of South African artists Esther Mahlangu and Gladys Mgudlandlu.

UCT academic Dr Xolisa Guzula read to the children from her book, Imbokodo: Women Who Shape Us, including the life stories of both Mgudlandlu and Mahlangu as well as musicians Madosini and Brenda Fassie.

The language-and-literacy-studies lecturer said she had chosen to read stories that had relevance to the children’s lives. Brenda Fassie grew up in Langa and went to Moshesh Primary too.

“Without connecting to what already exists you lose the meaning,” she said.

Shanaaz Dollie, Norval’s head of education, said visual literacy and art making were key to the foundation’s education programmes. “For quite a number of schools, that doesn’t happen on a regular basis so children become disinterested in art simply because there isn’t enough exposure to it.” she said.

“Our programmes are specifically tailored and developed with South African artists in mind, so the children don’t only see it in a textbook but physically see the artwork. It is not just learning, we are teaching them how to look at art, how to experience art.

“A lot of what we do focuses on the children’s reflection. We ask what they think about something. It is very important we make that a normal thing in a child’s life that they are asked what is your view, that there is no right or wrong answer and there’s only what you think. And for them to see the beauty in that.”

The Grade 4s spent a good part of last Friday with authors, artists and academics as they toured the art museum
UCT academic Dr Xolisa Guzula read to the children from her book, Imbokodo: Women Who Shape Us.