Day 3 at Irbaan was art day. We prepared for this at home by bringing oil pastels and a good grade of paper that would withstand the smudging and rubbing of colours as blends are created with this medium. The African landscape and animals, manyatas (Masai compounds), butterflies, acacia trees, chameleons, lions and Masai herders (mchungaji) and warriors (muran) formed the subject of the lesson. Students revelled in the challenge discovering how to blend and create contrast and soon learning that their new teachers insisted on colouring the whole page with a heavy application of pastel. Once all the work was done we collected their masterpieces and hauled them back to our tents at Figtree Tented Camp
The art project has a purpose in our program. We will select a few of the best pieces and bring them back to Canada with us to mount and display at a fundraiser planned for this summer at Crescent Beach, Surrey. The artwork will be auctioned and the returns will go right back to Irbaann Primary Sc h ool. We think this is a great way to have the students contribute directly to raising funds for the. r own education.
As an aside to this blogpost we want to raise an interesting dilemma that we have come across more than once in the Kenyan schools we have visited. Art, of the kind we are speaking about here, pictures made for pleasure and enjoyment, as well as for other learning objectives, get short changed all too often because ‘art’ is not part of the ‘tested’ curriculum. At the same time we have been invited to attend dance and singing performances where children display deep cultural knowledge in an aesthetic manner. It’s a puzzle to us why the visual arts don’t rank as highly, especially when we are surrounded by such beauty and the vibrant colours of Africa. All the tourist grou ps stop at Curio Shops on their way across the country to the many great tourist destinations. Thought provoking, isn’t it?