It's said that beading and painting go back tens of thousands of years, and count among the earliest forms of artistic expression among humans.
During the week starting 19 May, staff and students were given the opportunity to practice these ancient arts at a workshop forming part of Africa Month, marked at UCT throughout May. Setting up shop in the Kramer Building, the hosts '“ the transformation committees of the International Academic Programmes Office, the Office of the Vice-Chancellor and Human Resources '“ invited participants to test their aesthetic ability on bags of beads and string, and a selection of paints and brushes.
The beading, for one, wasn't as easy as it may have seemed at first glance. It demands "patience", said one staffer, painstakingly trying to fashion her materials into a colourful necklace. "Creativity", suggested another, steadily passing beads through an unruly string. "You need some kind of level of symmetry," pointed out a third.
Painting was no less demanding. Participants mixed colours and textures as they decorated small cloth bags with a selection of designs, from Madiba portraits to silhouettes of Africa.
All in all, the impromptu artists did quite well, observed Sianne Abrahams of the HIV-AIDS Institutional Co-ordination Unit (HAICU), who ran the painting portion of the workshop.
"The experience of canvas-bag painting provides a creative space for staff and students to express themselves," said Abrahams. "There is such a wonderful sense of fun and excitement that unifies the participants. At the end of the workshop, the most rewarding outcome of the event is not the beautifully painted bag itself, but the dialogues, new friendships and laughter; for me as the facilitator, this is what Africa Month is all about."
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