Every child is an artist the problem is how to remain an artist

The Ujamaa Art Gallery and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) implemented a four day art project called ‘Bridging the lines’ with the aim of nurturing the artistic talent of refugee and Tanzanian children by exposing them to specific art  techniques from renowned Tanzanian artists.

On Wednesday the best paintings got a rare opportunity of being in an exhibition that will be running from February 15 to 29, 2012 at the Ujamaa Art Gallery and all proceeds including colouring books and post cards that will be on sale. The proceeds will go into buying art equipment for them.

Ujamaa Art Gallery Director, Lorna Mashiba said at the launching of the exhibition that was graced by numerous members of the Diplomatic Corps and art lovers that Ujamaa Gallery was formed with the sole purpose of giving up coming artists an opportunity to showcase their talent for the local and international market.

“When we started the ground work for this project with UNHCR, we honestly didn’t expect to see the enthusiasm that we received from the children and I guess that on itself has been a huge success of this project,” she said. Mashiba said that much as the chance to exhibit the work for the children is a once in a lifetime opportunity for them, Ujamaa Gallery would strive at ensuring that it isn’t a one off thing.

She said that taking into consideration the hardships many of the children have gone through, it was expected that most of the paintings would depict the atrophies and war but it was pleasingly surprising to see that many were about everyday life. “This project has proved one very important thing, art is borderless and one of the best instruments of connecting people,” she said.

The Tanzania UNHCR Country Representative, Mr Oluseyi Bajulaiye said that seeing the paintings plastered on the walls of the gallery and the huge presence of those invited was proof that the intended goals had been met. Bajulaiye said that it was quite evident that both the refugee children and their Tanzanian friends possessed huge talents and that everyone in society needed to strive at cultivating children’s talents especially in art.

“This exhibition is an opportunity to show the public the immense talent that exists in these children but also an opportunity to show the public how the UNHCR partners with other people in issues related to society,” he said.

The Director of Cultural Development in the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Professor Hermas Mwansoko said that he was very impressed on what he had seen from the paintings on display saying that it showed the depth of talent and artist capability.

Prof Mwansoko congratulated both UNHCR and Ujamaa Gallery for coming up with the project saying that the promotion of culture and art was one of the things that the government was striving to do and thanked them for supplementing.

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