“Pencils down in five minutes, finish your pictures guys.” A flurry of paper and splashing of colour. 12 eager faces, determined to create masterpieces and succeeding with creative zeal.
This was one of the most enthusiastic art classes I’ve ever experienced, including a year ten day out with a free lunch. The strangest part of this was that this class wasn’t planned, I wasn’t the teacher and we weren’t even inside. All materials were donated by two DOMCCP (Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme) volunteers and the children had found me hidden in the long grass sketching Regina Coeli Mission. Initially a small group of critics, as their confidence grew, so did their participation. From colouring in small outlines to requesting personal drawings by the end the group had doubled and were collaborating on free hand pictures to improve my sketchbook.
Back in Britain I take for granted that children have the latest games consoles and enough television channels to entertain for years. Here, children are far more engaged and eager and don’t have guaranteed access to one of the simplest pleasures-colouring in. The shame of this was highlighted in the pride of the Regina Coeli’ children’s faces. The world is being denied artwork, but the children are missing out even more on creativity and self-expression. I didn’t know that mattered to me until sketching with school children under the Zimbabwean sunset.