Social Media is a great networking tool and I have, by far, more Facebook friends than friends in real life. By nature I’m a solitary soul and these far off friendships suit my personality. I don’t have to get embroiled in the often tiresome ritual of having meaningless conversations for the sake of social convention. I suppose I’m a bit strange and selfish but I’m comfortable with that.
My network of Facebook friends mainly consists of photographers, street artists and other creatives with interests similar to mine. These cyberspace friendships in the wide blue nowhere sometimes have the most serendipitous outcomes!
I have a FB friend in London – I can’t remember how we originally connected. During April I received a private message from him saying he’ll be in Jozi later that month suggesting that we meet. It transpired that he was an internationally known street artist with the painting name Solo One, one of the international artists invited to participate in the City of Gold Urban Arts Festival.
We met at the launch of the festival and I mentioned my involvement with the Albert Street School and how I feel that street art has an important role to play in Art as Healing as it’s a medium inner city kids identify with. Rasty and Curio of the PCP crew already did a mural at the Field of Dreams library and I asked him if he would be interested in painting something at the school. He readily agreed to do a piece free of charge, taking time out from a hectic schedule of painting the week he was in Jozi.
The City of Gold Urban Arts festival was a great success. It’s really fascinating to watch and photograph artists creating pieces. I’m always amazed by the sheer artistry, skill and control these guys have over their chosen medium and what they can create in a short period of time. There’s little hesitation once they start and it sometimes seems as if there is some creative telepathy at play when they paint on the same wall – each one adding his bit to the whole without exchanging a word.
Originally I had a small dead-end passage in mind for Solo One to paint at Albert Street but I showed him a photograph a large blank wall in the Grade One classroom. “Not a problem I’ll do that” he said. I dropped him at the school after nine one morning and went back just before three that afternoon to check progress.
The mural was finished
In less than six hours he created a stunning mural with a map of Africa as the central piece. Sun-rays expand from Zimbabwe far over the borders of the continent. In the one corner he painted a tree which represents growth.
The piece truly reflects the spirit and strength of Albert Street School, how the little School That Can has become a haven for so many refugee kids giving them a first class Cambridge education while relying on handouts and donations.
The enthusiasm and joy of the kids and educators, the appreciation of Solo One colouring their world rocked my world.
Boyd, this is a belated thank you for sharing your amazing talent so generously. I watched you explaining to little kids what you’ll be painting, showing them your album, telling them that you are from London and with much caring and gentleness explaining to them what snowflakes are. You were great.
Solo One is involved in the UK - http://www.signalproject.com/ - that uses street art and graffiti workshops to supplement school art syllabus as well as creating large murals as community upliftment projects
Solo One also has a blog - http://soloone.blogspot.com/ - He posted recently that he painted a mural together with Rolf Harris CBE, now 82, who amongst his many achievements, was commissioned to paint a portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth for her 80th birthday.
Oh Mrs. Rose I still remember you saying that street-art and graffiti promotes drug dealing and crime. Life has moved on.
We are busy painting three classrooms at Albert Street School and some other well known painters have promised to add their work.
Art as Healing.
Say something beautiful or be quiet…..
The last two images are not mine but that of Solo One - please do not reproduce