Artists find Self-Sovereignty
in the City of Kings

by Ruth Bickle

The role of the artist is to create meaningful works of art that inspire people. ‘Art’ manifests itself in the corporal world as paintings, sculptures, stories and poetry. However, the inspiration for these artworks comes from within. Thus, the artist searches inwards, to find self-sovereignty.

Shuna Herscovitz co-ordinates many art and music projects on behalf of Beautiful Bulawayo and Heal the World.  Shuna together with Talent Kapadza are co-ordinating an exhibition titled The Heal The World following the theme of Spiritual Resonance, to be held at the National Gallery of Bulawayo, on 24th August 2017.

In January Shuna approached Adelaide based Zimbabwean born visual artist, Lauryn Arnott, to facilitate an art workshop titled the City of Kings toinspire local artists to create artworks for the exhibition. Lauryn is an international Visual Artist, winner of the 2006 Association of Commonwealth Universities Art Prize in a competition called a Place in the World with her drawing Journey Home. She facilitates workshops on Art and Transformation across the world and is well known in Bulawayo art circles as a past chair of the Visual Arts Association of Bulawayo (VAAB).

Bulawayo is called the City of Kings. So it was fitting and thrilling when the Bulawayo’s Natural History Museum’s Regional Director, Dr. Moira Fitzpatrick offered the Hall of Kings in the museum for the venue, with access to authentic artifacts relating to the theme of Kingship and leaders. The Hall of Kings was a perfect setting for a creative workshop on the City of Kings. The room is draped with old and new historical flags, and littered with symbolic artifacts from powerful men that have risen and fallen.

The word ‘maya’ is an ancient Indian concept. In its simplest meaning, it signifies the visions created by our minds through our five senses. Depending on our state, these can be illusions—constructed reality—or memories of true experiences. Often, they are not a true representation of what actually exists before us nor do they convey what those sights really mean.

Lauryn introduced drawing exercises opening up perceptual pathways between the right and left brain; using the mantra-  draw what you see, not what think you see. Thus participants were guided to draw the model and the set from life, applying drawing exercises to release old habits of visualising; to look beyond for a deeper meaning – beyond naming – to experience an inner connection with their subject.

The feedback was positive from Sally Ferguson, “Very clear explanations about observing shapes, making one look carefully to become more aware…. Beautifully explained and presented. The aspects of self- transformation and problem solving were most therapeutic and good. I was amazed to discover how the creative process is transformative and inspiring.  This is powerful stuff. I have always found somehow this is a blessing on the creative process one can’t account for.  Engagement of every person with every story is what we are made for!  The objective of share, care and inspire was achieved … we are Kings”.

Established Zimbabwean painter, Rashid Jogee found the workshop therapeutic and would like to have more workshops using museum interventions. Nozinhle Ncube felt that her ability to focus on the theme of the workshop positively enhanced her and assisted her in realising her abilities and capabilities.

Cynthia Chamisa enjoyed acquiring the observational skills and drawing techniques learnt which helped her focus and to be more intuned with her inner being.

Artist Dumisani Ndlovu’s highlight was learning the Grisaille technique of drawing. A technique in which the surface of the paper is covered with Charcoal, thus creating a mid-tone, upon which the artist then draws using an eraser. Sanguine (Terracotta), White and Black pastels were applied later to create the illusion of depth and form in the drawings.

The intention of this workshop was for particpants to learn and share, themes and techniques pertaining to the idea of reclaiming artisitic self-sovereignty. An experience heightened by the act of drawing a model in the Hall of Kings. Knowledge accumulated during the workshop, would in turn be shared by workshop participants with other artists and students across the region. VAAB members agreed to continue with weekly drawing classes.

The workshop ended with a critique and group discussion on the Grisaille technique of drawing from dark to light, assessing the diverse approaches on the theme of finding one’s inner light in a world full of darkness and chaos. Bulawayo’s Natural History Museum offered a rich resource for artists to draw from for artworks for the Heal the World exhibition to be held at the National Gallery of Bulawayo this August.

Contact Lauryn Arnott  for art workshops:

SALT Magazine is an African-Australian Community News Magazine, created to provide print and online news and information on a broad range of issues of interest to the African community in Australia as well as to the wider general public. Our main aim is to act as a platform for the voice of the new and emerging African Australian communities, providing an African perspective to Australian topics. We wish to highlight African refugee success stories and encourage community development by exploring the challenges faced by new arrivals.

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