Artists help kids bring change to their world

Vision, colour transforms township streets

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Visual art paintings are taking over the streets of Motherwell NU1 as Bay artists use their talent to uplift the community and its future through kids.Motherwell brothers and visual artists Sakumzi and Msindisi Nyendwana are in the process of transforming an illegal dumping site in the community into a colourful attraction with the help of some young children.This is one of numerous dumping sites the talented brothers have transformed with their art – one of them is at the back of their Motherwell home and art gallery.“Our aim is to beautify Motherwell and save kids, animal and the community from the environmental and health hazards caused by illegal dumping sites,” Sakumzi said.He said they aimed to influence positive change in the community through children.“As an artist who grew up in the township, I’ve struggled so much to pursue art as a career.“I’m giving back to the community by transferring our art skills to the young ones because I believe one or two kids will follow our steps and influence change.“Our vision is to educate and influence positivity,” he said.The artists have transformed the field with paintings of SA political icons such as Nelson Mandela and decorative text and flowers on some structures.The two are self-taught and have been painting for about 10 years.They developed the Hand in Hand Visual Art Studio in Ingwe Street in the home they share with their mother and sister.The studio holds their paintings of various anti-apartheid struggle heroes including Winnie Mandela, Hector Peterson and Walter Sisulu.Over the past seven years of operation, the gallery has hosted local and international tourists who either find it on travel websites such as Trip Advisor or upon recommendations.“We sometimes book a day or night’s stay at accommodation establishments so we can market our work to tourists there,” Sakumzi said.Last year, he and Msindisi collaborated with Port Elizabeth artist Luc van der Walt – another painter who is uplifting the Motherwell community by getting kids involved in art.The artists collaborated on the Flowers for Africa initiative – a flower-painting project in which about 50 children painted big flowers on the walls of the shacks they live in to brighten up the area.This year the social artist and kids moved to the community nearby to paint more walls .“The most important thing here is that the kids do the paintings themselves.”“I have obviously had to speak to homeowners, community leaders and [all relevant parties] for consent before having the kids paint on walls and most people were willing.”Some of Van der Walt’s goals to fulfil through Flowers for Africa is to brighten up the surroundings, teach new skills, introduce children to art and build self-esteem, confidence and pride.The kids finished the paintings last week and the artists have managed to involve community members like Bay activist Simpiwe Kaya to facilitate the project further.“If this goes well, the plan is to drop off paint and brushes on a regular base so the flowers can spread across a large portion of the poorest parts of Motherwell,” Van der Walt said.For now, Van der Walt is wanting to expand his projects and is looking for the right sponsorship or partnership to provide paints and brushes and money to pay some community members to facilitate ongoing projects.He has worked with nongovernmental community development and humanitarian organisations in refugee camps and conflict areas, using art to promote their cause, in places ranging from the DRC to the Middle East.Van der Walt continues to work with Hand in Hand Visual Art Studio by recommending them to tourist guests at his backpackers’ accommodation in Redhouse.In turn, Sakumzi and Msindisi often transfer guests to community member Nwabisa Badi’s house where she runs a soup kitchen for the children, volunteers and facilitators.More information is available on www.art2uplift.org.To join the WhatsApp group of individuals who would like to donate towards and receive updates on Van Der Walt’s projects: send ‘art2uplift’ to 084-880-8390.

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