Artist’s mission to keep children out of mischief

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020 00:00 |
Painter Jeremiah Mackenzie with the portrait drawings of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi. Photo/PD/Douglas Dindi

It is exactly 10. 30 am and learning is underway at the informal visual art class at the African Church of Holy Spirit church (ACHS) compound in Lugalla village in Kakamega east sub county.

Under the watchful eye of the instructor Jeremiah Mackenzie Sore, a retired art teacher, fifteen learners–nine boys and six girls¬ aged– between 10 and 14 years are spread out across desks littered with drawing tools, including manila papers, pencils, crayons, jars of water paint and painters brush.

Hanging right in front of the church-turned-informal classroom, is a portrait painting of the late Catholic prelate, ex-Pope John Paul II and the founder of the ACHS; Chief priest, the late Ayub Maburu.

The painting is christened ‘peace makers’, and is today’s assignment for the visual art class Sore runs at the Church.

Sore started the class in April this year to productively engage school going children in this village following the indefinite closure of school over coronavirus pandemic.

Sore, 73, runs the class alone as a pastime and visual art is the main subject in addition to craft.

Asked why the turn out is low, Sore, said “visual art is not for crowds”.

“In this village, only my son and I have an interest. We communicate our ideas to the masses through our paintings.

That is the inspiration that will bring them here to learn,” he added.

Students meet in this church thrice every week for up to two hours to hone their skill in visual art.

The session is practical and interactive and Sore admitted he has so far identified some talents with a bright future in the trade.

The septuagenarian said he began the programme to assist talented artists in the village to succeed him after realising that coronavirus would confine children home for a longer time than usual and hence the need to engage them productively.

“I want my students to engage in what they like most. I don’t give them topics to draw on.

I allow them to explore their imagination to draw unique art works that meet the threshold of balance, proportion, emphasis, variety, movement, rhythm and harmony,” Sore said.

The church administration, he observes, provided the space for the class. 

“Drawing and painting is one way of engaging our children from the usual monotony of science and mathematics,” he said as he he led us to his art gallery, in his stone house, situated about 100 metre from the church gate.

In the gallery, Sore has remarkable paintings of prominent politicians including portraits of the late President Daniel Moi, President Uhuru Kenyatta, Orange Democratic Leader, Raila Odinga, former US president Barack Obama, Deputy President William Ruto and Musalia Mudavadi. 

Picking on one of Raila portraits produced after the 2017 election, showing the ODM leader crestfallen as he waved to supporters, Sore said visual artists speak through their drawing and paintings, adding the strokes of the pen and brush are calculative and intended to drive a specific idea. 

The 2017 painting of Raila, he said, was probably his last piece of work.

 “I think my painting days are over. This is not a business. It does not make me any money.

Painting requires a lot of concentration and commitment. Training children to draw and paint as I age is my delight,”he said.

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