Talking fish and illuminated alphabets: an art lesson in Malawi

Art lesson at Ganet's Adventure School, Malawi

Trustees Steve McInerny and Stefanie Posavec were joined on their recent visit to the school in Malawi by GASF supporter and artist at large Deirdre Nelson. Deirdre has supported the school before, having set up and created the work for Wordbespoke, our ebay art auction from 2011. We discussed a selection of art projects with the teachers, and worked with them to integrate these with the children’s current subjects of study.

Standards three and four were coralled by Deirdre, Stefanie and the teachers into making paper hand puppets shaped like fish. Lake Malawi is only a few miles from the school, though many of the children have never seen it. It boasts many unique species of tropical fish, many of which can be found in fishtanks around the world. Deirdre showed the children how to decorate the fish with a collage of found and coloured paper, also drawing patterns and shapes onto them. The staff then helped the children stick the puppets together using the decorated fish templates, as the teachers explained how the fish propel themselves underwater.

Once completed, the puppets came alive in the hands of the children, and a large shoal quickly formed, shouting “Chambo! Chambo! Chambo!”

Standards five and six worked with Steve and headmaster Mr Gondwe to create an illuminated alphabet, each letter filled with patterns based on leaves and flowers found around the school grounds.

Standards seven and eight drew pictures to illustrate some of their favourite things, as part of an ongoing partnership project with Chaucer Infant and Nursery School in the UK.

We thank Deirdre for donating art materials for use at the school. The school has a shortage of teaching materials and textbooks. Unfortunately donations of materials from the UK are prohibitively expensive to send to Malawi, so materials are purchased in Malawi, thereby also helping the local economy. If you would like to make a donation then please visit our Virgin Money Giving page(UK supporters can add Gift Aid automatically). If you have suggestions for future arty ideas, please post them in the comments box below!

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