University of Cape Town: A rare art exhibition at UCT Irma Stern Museum

A unique art exhibition showcasing the artistic expression of students from Glenbridge Special School and Research Centre has pride of place at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Irma Stern Museum.

The exhibition is a result of the museum’s “Art House for All”, which runs every Monday and caters for a select group of students from Glenbridge who are taught art by Nobuko Nqaba, the curator and education coordinator for the UCT Irma Stern Museum.

Nqaba explained: “The group from Glenbridge have been coming to the museum regularly from February this year. Their ages range from eight to 12 and they are 11 learners in total.

“The whole idea was to provide a safe space for learners to work with their strengths and capabilities by creating artworks that are inspired by the work of Irma Stern. We encouraged them to create freely and to instil some sense of pride in them because these are learners who are, generally speaking, marginalised by society.”

No mistakes

The Glenbridge students’ artistic expressions were given free reign, and their teachers noticed the positive effect the art classes were having on their self-esteem.

“One of their teachers said … that she was amazed that in the art class they could follow instructions because in school they struggled to do that. For us, we want to involve the learners in this space and make them feel appreciated and help them realise that they too can create art without being judged,” Nqaba said.

“The motto of the class is, ‘There is no right or wrong’ and it’s all about expressing yourself. We don’t even have erasers in the class. We work with what they think is a mistake and turn it into something that they can be proud of.

“At the school, the learners do not have access to art equipment like they do when they come to the museum, and when they use these tools they can see what they are capable of producing.”

Exhibition is open to the public

The exhibited works of art are mostly two-dimensional works and includes a range of different mediums such as acrylic painting, the use of ink and pastels as well as mixed media. Clay bowls are the only three-dimensional works on display.

Every learner has three pieces showcased in the exhibition, which runs until 9 July. UCT staff and students enter the museum for free upon presentation of their student or staff card.