Artist homes in to help rural kids

After-school programme provides a space for children to develop skills


Growing up in a home with two creative matriarchs, a Rhodes University fine arts student was inspired to begin a community-based skills transfer programme using art, poetry, music and reading.
Samkela Stamper, 35, who has since opened an art gallery in her grandmother’s Peddie home, uses the space to conduct art workshops for children in the small rural town.
Stamper said it was important for people to have access to art and a platform to groom and showcase their special creative talents.
“The Thandeka Stamper Art Gallery is a safe space for children to come and express themselves while working with paint, ceramics, singing, playing chess and reading.
“As part of our after-school programme, we do these activities, plus we provide clay to a local school.
“We are also working at manufacturing tiles for ceramics,” said Stamper.
The self-taught ceramic artist said she grew up without creative spaces to use as outlets for her developing talents.
“It was my curiosity for nature and art that led me to where I am today.
“I want to offer disadvantaged children the opportunities to work and have access to art,” she said.
The Thandeka Stamper Art Gallery will host the uQongqothwane Public Arts Festival in Dabhani village in Peddie on April 27.“This festival is a community effort. It will be very spiritual. We will kick-start the festival with mediation at 4am.“Those who want to speak to their God will have the freedom to do so.“We will slaughter an animal and brew amarhewu. We have asked the mamas in the area to bake and make food so we can all share,” she said. “Many people have opened their homes for us in the community as it will be a walk-about festival. We will have a few outdoor art activities.”Stamper is a woman of many talents as she is a self-published author, a poet, singer, ceramic artist and visual artist.“My grandmother kept an array of creative educational books in the house. My love for art was an eclectic process.“It is when I started going to poetry sessions I realised my growing passion for the arts. I began performing poetry, working with visual artists to create concepts and working with photographers,” she said.Stamper’s seasoned experience in the arts includes working with under-performing schools to help pupils improve their marks.“When I was on a learnership with the department of education, I visited under-performing schools to work with examiners. It was then I realised that what is missing in our communities is art.“When I began my pursuit of educating through art, it was all about skills transfer.“Now that I have been exposed to some of the most talented young people, I find it is now a skills exchange.“I am learning so much from these brilliant young minds,” she said...

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