Engaging with children has been a recurring objective for Robi Walters’s art practice, aiming to encourage an unrestricted and liberated art production from fresh and young minds. In October of this year, as part of his yearly collaboration with the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Robi took groups of school children to the shows, arranging private tours, and hosting drawing workshops for them.
After moving to a new studio in Soho, Robi has been able to use the space as a joint gallery and working space, allowing opportunities for solo shows, such as the recent I Project You. By hosting the exhibition in his own space, Robi can have a more precise oversight on the exhibition’s contents yet also, and importantly, the events which accompany it. With this freedom and opportunity, Robi has been able to engrain his love of community work and involving children with his art practice.
Adhering to Robi’s aspirations to interact with children in the space, the Wardour Mews studio hosted three exciting workshops last week for different age groups of primary school children. To kick off the workshops, Robi encouraged a meditation session in order to relax and calm the group, aiming to make them more responsive to the tasks ahead. With the installation of the I Project You exhibition still in place, the children were able to take a look at the works by the artist. From this, the group were able to grasp that the portraits did not necessarily look identical to the people they were representing; instead, there were alternate features of the image which contributed to the representation and dialogue between the image and the person represented, notably colour.
Each child was next assigned a partner and given the challenge to draw the other in profile. This taps into a key theme of Robi’s most recent exhibition, exploring understandings of identity in the context, or through the eyes, of other people. Considering colour again, the children next painted the portraits they felt represented their partner’s personality, encouraging a new and exciting understanding of colour for the children.
The finished results from the workshop were extremely successful, with portraits produced that were unrestricted, refreshing, colourful, and free. The workshop was definitely a cooperation that deserves to be repeated and reworked.
Written by Hannah Clynch