One of our Sixth Form art students, Tyler-Paige Beckley, spent three weeks in South Africa recently and has documented her reaction to what she experienced.
‘During my three week volunteering trip to Cape Town in South Africa, I decided to sketch a few of the moments that felt most memorable and impactful for me.
Whilst there, I spent much of my free time travelling around the area and visiting some of my family’s hometowns. It was during one of these journeys that my eyes were really opened to the reality of the many individuals and families living in extreme poverty. As we drove, we passed numerous townships and being in the midst of a Capetonian winter, many of which were flooded, with homes collapsed or damaged. Amongst all of this, however, I noticed a group of young children playing with sticks that they had carved out and were using to sword fight. It amazed me that despite standing amongst rubbish, crumbling homes and having so little, even in such difficult circumstances they were still just children having fun, no different to you or I growing up, filled with play, mischief and joy.’
‘Another sketch that I did, I drew following a day that I spent shadowing within Groote Schuur hospital’s renal failure and dialysis unit. During my time there, I was given the opportunity to speak with one of the patients. He went on to talk about how he was having to travel hours there and back up to four times a week to receive 3-4 hours of treatments, In addition to this, he was not viable for transplant and therefore it was likely that he would have to make these journeys for the rest of his life. He spoke briefly about the difficulty of spending so much time away from home and family but also the financial strain paying for private care.
When I came away from the hospital, I decided to do a sketch representative of my time there. The drawing depicts a person’s arm as they are receiving treatment, the fact that no face or distinctive features can be seen conveys the fact that that health is unpredictable and that anyone could end up in a similar situation of being trapped by the constraints of an illness or poor health. This is also reflected in the messiness of the tubes and wires connected to the individual. The arm tangled in the tubes that are keeping the person healthy shows the duality of the man’s circumstance: whilst the treatment is helping him and keeping him alive it is also restricting him from truly ‘living’.’
Tyler continues: ‘The final drawing that I did I did was during a long bus journey where I noticed opposite me an elderly man sat alone reading, with his duffle bag on the seat next to him and a sandwich in his other hand. Seeing him made me think of the fact that every person that we see and interact with has lived their own individual lives, each with their own unique experiences, memories and pasts that we could never truly be aware of, as we are just passing by, absorbed within the rat race of our own lives.
Throughout our lives, all we know are the people around us and the experiences that we have lived, meanwhile there are billions of people thinking the exact same thing. Seeing him got me thinking about what his life has been like, why was he alone?, where was he going? I’m likely to never see this individual again in my lifetime and yet life still goes on, each moving forward with their own lives making new experiences completely oblivious to one another.”
Tyler-Paige’s artistic talent is truly exhibited in this drawing of a small child, as she noticed how children can entertain themselves with very little.