Two weeks into our block of art sessions and the young people have settled into a routine, word of mouth has spread and numbers have swelled. We have moved on from clay sculpture to creating three life-sized figures, painted to represent themselves as they would like to be in the future, “if dreams came true”. The face would later be removed so they can stand behind it and add their own face through the hole.
Two of the young people who had not really engaged in the clay work (preferring to watch or spend the time texting) really took to this idea, although in very contrasting styles.
One young person who seemingly had never held a paintbrush before, was content to slap as much paint on as quickly as and nonchalantly as possible. At the end, however, after a bit of help with the background he was visibly impressed by what he had achieved with his footballer portrait. He painted his name with flourish across the top.
The other young person has spent many hours carefully and intricately painting a “James Bond” style figure in a suit with fine brushes. He decided to set this very western looking gentleman against the backdrop of his home in the Afghan mountains.
Both young people were keen to know where the work would be displayed and were at pains to say that it had to go somewhere a lot of people would see it but that it should be carefully supervised so it wouldn’t get damaged.
The third figure, a man in an Afghan party outfit was a group effort with people taking turns to paint while a group sat around, tea in hand, shouting out instructions and generally enjoying commenting on each other’s efforts. It was decided that this figure was to be placed on a beach, maybe suggesting opportunities for relaxation and fun outside of Afghanistan.
When they weren’t involved in creating the life-sized painting, crayons and pencils were made available to them. The result was a collection of drawings of Afghan flags (minus the “tricky bit in the middle”) plus romantic pictures of flowers, apples and lost loves – although surprisingly for a group of young Afghans there were no poems this time.
As the sessions continue, in a few weeks we will soon be thinking about preparing the young people to adjust to them no longer being part of their routine – fielding questions of “why are we stopping?” – and preparing to exhibit the work.