Entries in reddam house (2)


Mandela and Mosaics

I received an e-mail last term from Taryn Millar last term with a request to get my art students involved in an activity planned for this year’s Mandela day. Taryn is with the fundraising and project management arm for the redevelopment of the KZN Children’s Hospital and she wanted my art students from Reddam House Umhlanga to get involved in a mosaic project – taking two flat surfaced garden benches, and mosaicing images that relate to the Children’s Hospital onto the benches. This project would be initiated at the Children’s Hospital site on the 18th of July. (What would have been Mandela’s 100 Birthday)

My Grade 11 art students and I arrived at the KZN Children’s Hospital on Wednesday morning at 9am and started working on the tops of the concrete benches.

All sorts of events and activities were taking place at the same time. A few primary schools were involved in painting portraits of Mandela and making handprints in paint, and tertiary students worked on murals around the car park of the Children’s Hospital. With loud music playing, singing and a large birthday cake being cut and distributed, the atmosphere was quite festive.

We worked on the mosaics until 11.30am and then I took my students on a tour of the still derelict parts of the hospital buildings. A lot of the building is in a terrible state of decay. See the pics below. My students loved the atmospheric creepiness of the building and a few have vowed to return for future photo shoots. You can also look at my previous blog post for more pics of this building

We didn’t complete the benches - so we will collect them next week and finish them off at school. The finished  benches will eventually be placed along the pathway of the functioning outpatient department at the hospital.


Monkey thieves, bunnies and minimalism

At the beginning of this year I changed schools to establish a new art department at Reddam House Umhlanga. Reddam House is part of the Inspired group of co-educational and non-denominational international schools. What made me interested in joining the school was their particular interest in developing the creative arts. They have bought the existing Umhlanga College campus & will soon be building the new school and adding to the already beautiful setting of majestic trees and open fields.

When I first visited the school late November I was drawn to the large Natal Fig trees (Ficus Natalensis) that line the walkways outside the high school. 

Since then I have discovered more of them around the school. Like this twisty knotted one below:

My new classroom is a large very open space that has a lot of natural light. I have stripped it down to the bare minimum & intend keeping it uncluttered. 

I used to have a little office at Durban Girls' College, which I miss because it afforded me some privacy, but I have managed to create a little nook for myself. Surrounded by a painting I have started, my pin board & my custom made office chair covered in a vintage style fabric, I have managed to create a little nest. 

Of particular delight are the animals that inhabit the school grounds. The resident bunny and chickens live in a grassy area that borders the parking & monkeys invade the buildings and grounds daily. 

I still have to make up my mind whether the monkeys are a "delight" but for the moment I am enjoying watching them. Whole troops peer at us in the classrooms from the clerestory windows & break into any classroom that is empty hoping to steal food out of kids' lunch boxes. They have become quite adept at unzipping and unlatching these containers. In my first week at school a monkey ran into my classroom while I was holding a Grade 12 class. My only male student in my Grade 12 class, puffed himself up & chased the monkey out. The monkeys are quite sexist & do not react to women & can get quite aggressive.