In 2000, a friend asked me if I’d like to go draw with some children in a country school in Conakry New Guinea where her daughter was teaching. Both the children and the adults were delighted to be able to experiment with paint. I remember to amazed look in a teacher’s eyes when I mixed yellow and blue. “Magic” she said, opening her eyes wide as the colours turned to green.
Since, it’s been a real joy to work each year with underprivileged children in disadvantaged parts of the world.
I like to see them draw a face with charcoal. They’re always certain they won’t be able to do it, but I’ve worked out a technique that works well and with each exercise they’re surprised to have been able to draw such an expressive face. Its always so pleasing to discover new abilities in a new skill.
I like getting them to invent animals, mix and match of heads and legs and body. First I ask them to draw it out then we use paint. They’ve worked on themes ranging from textiles to animal carnavals, from stories to masques. Often these subjects have ended up as frescos on walls. I give the workshops in the native language. I don’t actually speak their language, but have picked up specific words and short sentences that I can use be it in Soussou,in Wolof,in Massaï, in English, in Rumanian, in Malagasy, in Indonesian, in Tamoul.
Language is surprising, but it’s not really an obstacle because we’re together all day and thru drawing, gestures and looks, basic communication is totally possible. Drawing and paint like all art, allows us to share the essential of who we are, our deepest desires, the basis of our relationship to cultures and languages.
I am a free spirit, I’m not part of any organisation, but I do often travel with NGOs such as the Association du Pere Ceyrac, Rosario and Asia in India, Anak in Bali. I find new projects through word of mouth and I finance these through my exhibitions and the generosity of certain friends.
These workshops allow a new awareness that they are creators of drawings and therefore also creators of their own lives. With will-power, belief and desire, we have endless capacities especially for groups like the Dalits in India, who due to the caste system, have a very poor self image.