Made up of a small team of artists and documenters, ColourIkamva is a fairly new initiative that instils pride, possibility and responsibility in school children within Ikamva through working with them to transform their learning space, and help them envision plans for their futures. We have a chat to them about their project.
MAHALA: I understand Colour Ikamva is a project that was inspired by the guys over at Ikamva Youth. Can you tell us a little bit about what they’re doing and how Colour Ikamva fits in?
IKAMVA: IkamvaYouth is an amazing after school mentoring and tutoring program for learners in disadvantages communities. They work by a ‘culture of responsibility’ that has empowered students to lift themselves and each other out of poverty and into tertiary and employment opportunities. These kids are smart, charismatic and beautifully talented- IkamvaYouth is enabling them to see that. Inspired by this, we started ColourIkamva as a way to draw attention to their organization through art. We want to work with the students in co-creating an environment that reflects the beauty they all hold within. Where IkamvaYouth are addressing the academic needs of the students, our goal will be to address the needs of the soul.
Who is on the ColourIkamva team?
The core of the team is Ricky Lee Gordon, also known as the artist Freddy Sam, and Megan King. Ricky has been working on painting community projects throughout his career and is the man behind the project space and residency /A Word of Art. I am a writer and photographer. My work has always been an expression of trying to navigate through the complexities of living in South Africa. This project was a natural progression of both of us being involved with the things we most care about and the things we dream of changing, given whatever ability we have to do so.
Have there been other companies that have been keen to get involved and show support?
What began as an exploration around the world, asking questions about creativity and the environment to all kinds of people from monks, to other artists and community leaders, quickly developed into Dulux SA partnering with us for our first school initiative at Thembalidanisi Primary School called Colour Ikageng
ColourIkamva launched 14 November this year, and already have completed a project with Thembalidanisi primary school in Ikageng. What was the experience like?
Colour Ikageng launched on the 14th of Nov with Dulux as a partner and sponsor. The project is still in progress, it’s a month long. ColourIkamva encompasses all kinds of projects working with communities through art and documenting.
Heard any good feedback from the teachers and students on how the project has influenced student and teacher morale?
Every day we learn from each other. I think that once the school community understood what we were trying to do, when they understood that the project in essentially theirs and that we weren’t just a group of outsiders coming in and changing things or superficially painting their school and then disappearing, we began gaining trust and enthusiasm. The project is about getting the community to visualise their dreams for their own school. It’s about instilling pride and getting them to take ownership of their space. Its about letting them truly feel that people take an interest in them and their futures, and that creating positive spaces doesn’t have to involve a lot of money, just love and creativity, of which they have so much!
Is the plan to move from school to school in the area, or to stick with a selection of schools for a more in-depth, long-term involvement?
At the moment we are focusing on schools where IkamvaYouth is present. They currently operate in nine townships in five provinces.
The whole point of Colour Ikamva is to transform learning experience of the students by transforming their learning space. But education obviously starts with the teachers – how have they been getting involved?
Yes, ultimately, the impact of the project rests with them. We have been doing creative workshops with the teachers, asking them to create mood boards of their vision for their classroom, and what they can do to bring their ideas to life. We are not telling anyone what they need to do, we can only hope to plant a seed in peoples minds about creativity, trying to offer new way of looking perceiving their surroundings. Working with them has been so much fun! After a workshop where the teachers all painted flags to string together for their room and choose the new colours for their classrooms, the principal even told us he may just fancy himself an artist! Everything we have done with the teachers, they will be doing with their own classes in January.
Tell us more about some of the workshops you’ve been running?
The day Colour Ikageng launch, the 300 students of Thembalidanisi Primary we’re given A4 paper to draw ‘their vision for their school and future.’ We are using their designs in the murals that will be going up on some of the walls around the school, and creating a wallpaper of the original drawings. Every day kids come up to us with new ideas they want to see in the school, and it’s very important that they feel a part of the process of the transformation, and that it belongs to them. That is what the workshops are for. In December we will be running a Creative Camp with the IkamvaYouth students during the school holidays with a whole lot of art making, writing and performance!
And Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga?
Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga is an expression-focused public-arts project using visual arts to address HIV stigma in Rwanda. The work aims to develop a better understanding of what “living positively” means in Rwanda, and will use art as a tool for sharing stories, building relationships, and transforming opinions and ideas. We are currently in Kigali, where Ricky is painting the biggest mural of its kind and we have invited artists from all over the world to paint a mural in their hometown using the same theme of ‘living positively.’ This will then become an online exhibition helping to create awareness for the project and its cause.
Colour Ikamva has been selected as the official project of the World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 – what does that mean for Colour Ikamva?
We are very excited! It just means that we have been recognized as an initiative that is trying to connect with communities and address the glaring social divide in South Africa. Since World Design Capital will be help in Cape Town, our next school project will be in the Western Cape, too!
Tell us more about the fundraising campaign Colour Ikamva is launching in 2014.
We will be focusing on a crowd-funding campaign through Kick Starter. We are generating enough positive and illuminating content from Colour Ikageng that we will use to help our campaign to support future school developmet through art. We want to show people what is possible after doing it rather than asking them to try and imagine it.
How can people get involved?
If you are interested in helping us with our next project that will be happening in the Western Cape in 2014, please contact us at email@example.com. We are also looking for people who know how to make useful objects out of recycled materials. If you would like to be apart of the mutual exchange of knowledge with the delightful young learners of IkamvaYouth, you can find out how to get involved on the site.
* Images © Dane Dodds/Megan King