‘Art is must!’
With that statement, philosopher Hans Burgman, founder of the Mwangaza Art School, kicked off the meeting of the Friends of Pandipieri on October 7th, which was entirely devoted to art. We met in the exhibition space of the Scarabee foundation, just outside the city of Arnhem, where three speakers treated us to different works of art and inspiring visions. In addition, works of art by (former) pupils of the Mwangaza Art School in Kisumu, Kenya were on display.
Art in the slums
Why do you start an art education in the middle of the slums? For philosopher Hans Burgman it is simple: ‘Because there is more to life than economic profit. If we think that this is the most important, then we are quite poor,’ says the missionary who spent more than 40 years in the slums of Kisumu, Kenya, where he set up numerous educational, health and other welfare projects with friends and local residents. ‘Man needs beauty. That’s why: art has to be! It is not an unnecessary luxury. It is a platform for human communication. In essence, art is an early form of language. If you look at it: what existed before language? Images, forms. We can still find them now.’
“I feel like a rookie when I listen to your story”,
says Marcel van Kan, tutor Product Design at Artez art academy and initiator of the Plantation School. ‘Where you have gained more than 40 years of experience, I am at the beginning of an exciting new project, in which everything can still be discovered. Plantation School offers space to students and graduates to be immersed in a cross-cultural learning environment in Zanzibar for two weeks, where they will connect with the local way of life. In this way Plantation School wants to make students aware of their cultural similarities with people from a different cultural context and shine a light on their own and other ways of thinking, living and being.’
“Man needs beauty. Art is a must! It is not an unnecessary luxury. It is a platform for human communication.”
Art is a must. It could just as easily be the adage of Rob Sweere. Through a photo presentation, he shares a ‘small’ selection of his work with us. The countless number of art projects leaves no room for doubt: for Rob Sweere there is no life without art. From the North Pole to South Africa; Rob Sweere’s colossal and sensational works can be found there and not to be missed. They raise questions. Should these works always show such a prominent presence?’, a question that Rob is often asked. A large red, round shape sticks out above the townships of Cape Town. Made of corrugated iron; the material from which the buildings in the slums are made. Rob Sweere interviewed all kinds of people in the ‘radio tower’, from the local living around the corner to the white South African who wouldn’t come here otherwise.
In addition to architectural objects that focus on human experience, Rob Sweere uses the Silent Sky project to make art of people themselves, by letting them lay still on the ground for half an hour, in all sorts of places around the world, allowing them to look silently at the sky. An event that is experienced in Cape Town as a spiritual cleansing, while in Moscow as an act of resistance against the regime.
Mwangaza Art School; a training school for local Rembrandts in the making. After all, they live everywhere.
Rogier van Luijk, a board member of our foundation, shows images of the Mwangaza Art School. Last summer he was in Kisumu and met the students. Every year the Mwangaza Art School offers a place to ten young girls and boys with talent, who are trained in visual arts, drama and music. The school is unique for Kenya and has produced several artists such as Erick Ayoti, whose work is exhibited internationally, and who was also a teacher at the art school. Rogier says that the school offers plenty of opportunities for Dutch students and teachers. Examples are guest lecturing, project collaboration, internships and graduation assignments. An international exchange in the field of art and culture in the middle of Kenyan life; that has to generate inspiration.
“It is great that KUAP Pandipieri focuses on solving a problem with the community instead of solving the problem for the community. (Linde Recourt in her motivation letter)
We end the day with a group discussion, during which questions and remarks fly via folded airplanes to the moderator (and treasurer of the Friends of Pandipieri foundation) Martijn Knottnerus, who first wants to know something about Linde Recourt and Lotte Paridaans. Both have just finished high school. In the gap year that they take before they start their studies, they want to check the box of the number 1 on their bucket list: volunteering in Africa. From January on they will work as volunteers at KUAP Pandipieri for three months. ‘ I expect to meet a warm community in which everyone is important,’ says Linde. Besides volunteering, Linde and Lotte are also committed to the projects through a sponsorship campaign. Would you like to follow Lotte and Linde on their adventure in Kisumu or support their sponsorship campaign? Go to: https://linde-recourt.inactievooredukans.nl/ and https://lotte-paridaans.inactievooredukans.nl/.