From 18 – 22 October 2021, the Imbali team worked with more than 100 teachers and subject advisers, providing training over four workshops which took place in Gqeberha, East London, Queenstown, and Mthatha and saw participants from towns and cities all over the province attending.
‘It was a week of intense, packed and thrilling days. Four workshops in five days with travelling in-between. We had couriered the books and art materials to each venue beforehand but when we arrived we had to unpack the books, organise the materials for the workshop and pack an MTN backpack with art materials for each teacher to take home. The workshops made a great and exciting impression on all who attended, some people said they would never be the same again. All were inspired to take the creative arts they learnt back to their classrooms in a practical and hands on way. Teachers were thoughtful, responsive and engaged.’Justine Watterson, Director of the Imbali Visual Literacy Project
Teachers participating in the workshops painted the colour wheel, played with found tools and mark making, drew self-portraits, carved soap and created beautiful constructions from cardboard. They also looked at artworks from the Imbali Artbooks’ Adventuring into Art series.
Developing creative and innovative thought
Speaking on the workshops and creative exercises rolled out across the Eastern Cape, Tamsanqu Songabe, Senior Curriculum Planner for Creative Arts Subjects in the Eastern Cape department of education said that teachers were thrilled to participate and that sponsorships from corporate organisations such as the MTN Foundation are integral to arts education.
‘The teachers have been so excited, and we are feeling so blessed, especially because MTN has sponsored this programme. Honestly, in the arts, we need more of these companies to sponsor [initiatives like this], it’s so important. One of the most important subjects is the arts. It opens up the mind and develops creative and innovative thought.’Tamsanqu Songabe, Senior Curriculum Planner for Creative Arts Subjects in the Eastern Cape department of education
Touhira Frolick, a teacher at CW Hendricks primary, Uitenhage, explains that the Imbali Artbooks will go a long way in helping learners realise their potential and also to recognise what they are doing as a valid form of art.
‘Our learners are very talented, they can draw, they can build things, but often, they don’t even know that they are making art. These books will help them and explain more about art so that hopefully one day they can make art and even sell it themselves.’Touhira Frolick, a teacher at CW Hendricks primary, Uitenhage
Practical skills and resources to take back to classrooms
In addition to the artmaking activities in the workshops, each participant received a set of Imbali Artbooks as well as a pack of art materials to take back to their classrooms in order to supplement their art classes. The MTN-sponsored bags featured paints and paintbrushes for use in classrooms. ‘We highly applaud the Imbali Visual Literacy Project and the MTN Foundation for these donations,’ remarked Songabe at the opening of one of the workshops.
120 teachers and subject advisors took part in Imbali’s Eastern Cape workshops, all of them returning to their classrooms with an invaluable set of skills and resources for their students. Imbali’s Eastern Cape workshops follow their previous roll-out of the art books and introductory teacher workshops to the Northern Cape, North West, and Limpopo provinces, as well as in Mpumalanga, the Free State, and the Western Cape.
As Watterson explains, ‘At Imbali we believe strongly that art must be experienced. Children need to have access to art materials and guidance and encouragement to use these creatively and expressively. But just as importantly, they need to experience the joys of looking at art by having access to exciting and stimulating high quality reproductions of artworks that stimulate and encourage contemplation, engagement, and debate.’
Certainly, the work being done by Imbali, with support from the MTN Foundation, is vital to both sustaining and bettering arts education across schools in South Africa. Through the rolling out of their artbooks and workshops, they are contributing to the next generation of artists and educators in the country.