Home from Home foster children were given the opportunity to express themselves through art, and now they are using that art to fund their homes.
Cape Town, South Africa (09 February 2021) – The Orange Art Project, a unique and colourful exhibition is currently on at the Spin Street Gallery until 13 February and is open to the public. It is housed in a magnificent, spacious 1902 Sir Herbert Baker building in the centre of Cape Town.
This fascinating collection by children from the non-profit organisation, Home from Home, is the brainchild of Jill Trappler, an established South African artist. She encouraged 8 artists from the Orange Art Group to assist her in introducing the joy of creativity to vulnerable children in communities across the city at a time when staying at home has been such an important part of keeping safe during the pandemic.
Home from Home provides permanent, loving family-style homes to 200 children across the Western Cape in 36 community based foster homes. Each foster mother is employed and supported by a social worker and specialist professionals who offer tutoring, counselling and a variety of therapeutic interventions.
The three-month pilot project was initially started in six homes and soon grew organically to 12 homes as the message spread within the organization, and the fun and benefits were experienced. It has been in operation for the last eight months. The art mediums used included ceramics, fabric painting, collages, charcoal, cell phone photography, wax and pencil crayons.
The National Arts Council was interested in the social cohesion focus of the project and provided much-needed funding initially through the NAC and through the President’s Employment Stimulus Programme.
“We are part of the same society and this exercise in visual literacy is so important” says Jill, enthusiastically. “It was wonderful to see the development over eight months and see how art became part of the children’s homes and their lives. The next step is to get the children and foster mothers to visit the exhibition which for many of them will be their first exposure of this kind. Many of them did not fully understand what an exhibition means which is very exciting. It’s great when new ground is broken in an impactful way like this.
Thereafter there will be an exhibition of the professional artists and teachers who were part of the project and finally I will be exhibiting my work in March” Jill explains.
“It is wonderful exposure for our children and they look forward to these outings
The creative activities and guidance could not have been better timed. With some of our schools offering good online schooling and others not, it was tough for the foster mothers to have to become teachers to the six children in their care” remarks Peter Marx, Executive Director of Home from Home.
The frequency of the art classes varied depending on the teacher. Some contact happened weekly, and others monthly. During the hard lockdown, the teaching had to be conducted via Whatsapp, which was not easy, but as a rapport has been established, great progress was made. In October, many of the teachers were able to conduct the lessons in person, which made an enormous difference.
The exhibition is grouped per foster home, and the age of the children varies from as young as 3 years old to 18.
“We are passionate about the benefits of the Orange Art project with Home from Home and really hope to secure funding in the near future so that we can expand this initiative to more foster homes. We have seen amazing changes in some of the children. They are learning about shapes which helps their maths and about trees and ecology. One child even started writing stories. It is so heartening to see the progress and the joy” says Jill.
The art instruction was not outcomes-based and the children were encouraged to paint whatever appealed to them whether it be a bowl of fruit, a self-portrait, an image of the sea or a collage of their ideal home. One teacher read Dr Seuss to the younger children. They loved the rhyming prose and started to copy some of the illustrations from the storybooks. The value that this art experience has brought to the children’s lives is certain to be a lasting memory.
Gallery walkabouts will be conducted by Jill Trappler and Nonzali Hodini on Saturday 6th February at 11h00 and again on Thursday 11th at 11h00.
The artwork is available to purchase at R250 each with the proceeds going towards the Orange Art Project and the running costs of the foster homes involved.
“This is not about what it is, this is about what it can become” Dr Seuss