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Exploring a new art adventure: Imbali Artbooks website launches soon

Back to the beginning

The Imbali Visual Literacy Project has a long and rich history of providing training for creative arts teachers, as well as providing crafts training and skills development to youth and women from disadvantaged backgrounds, which leads to job creation and economic empowerment for these individuals. But how did it all start? ‘Imbali was founded 32 years ago (in 1988) during the dark years of apartheid,’ says Justine Watterson. ‘The impetus to start the project came from a national children’s art competition. This competition was open to all South African children but what became apparent from the entries was that children from rural and township schools, who had no access to art education, showed much poorer perceptual skills than their counterparts from more affluent schools, where art education was part of the curriculum. So Imbali was founded to address this injustice.
     ‘In the early days, workshops were held in the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Teachers from township schools came over weekends and after school to learn about teaching art-making and visual literacy. Right from its inception, Imbali placed importance on looking at and talking about artworks as well as creative art-making. During the early years, by necessity, Imbali worked outside of formal educational structures. Teachers came to the workshops because they recognised the value of the arts in education and wanted to take this to their pupils. 

    ‘Because art, at that time, was not part of the curriculum in schools confined to the “Bantu Education” system, the teachers attending these early workshops were teachers of other subjects, English, mathematics, history or biology. The Imbali workshops gave them ideas and tools for integrating creative art into other subject lessons.
     ‘After the change of government in 1994, with the move to democracy and the complete rehaul of the education system, art was finally included in the national curriculum, first as “Arts and Culture” and now in the CAPS as “Creative Arts”. However, the lack of training of art teachers remained a critical issue. To this day, the majority of teachers teaching creative arts at intermediate and senior phases have little or no formal training in the area.

     ‘So, Imbali’s work in training teachers in teaching visual art continued right through, from the turbulent 1980s and early ‘90s, to the dawn of democracy and the introduction of the new education system, to this day.
     ‘After 1994, Imbali began forging relationships with departments of education and the training often took place at teachers’ centres or schools. Imbali’s workshops have always been hands-on and experiential. The premise being that teachers need to experience their own creativity in order to pass this on to their learners.’

Navigate the article:
Back to the beginning
MTN SA & Imbali: 20 years of partnership
Adventuring into artbooks
Imbali Artbooks: carefully chosen themes and artworks
Book launch and roll-out
A brand new, interactive website

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