Learning with fun
Artel’s summer camp is one of a kind – Bina Ali, its founder, is a graduate from the National College of Arts, Lahore, in textile designing. Her studio consists of an array of exclusive furniture with intricate hand painted tile inlay, hand painted artefacts, hand painted wooden vessels, jewellery and customised giveaways. She came up with the idea of a summer school in 2011 and conducts month-long sessions in June and July. “I feel that working with children and seeing them create art is the most beautiful thing in the world. They are uninhibited and out-of-the-box,” says Ali.
How long have you been conducting this summer camp?
I started this summer camp in 2011 for children over the age of six till the age of 10. I have 12 classes per month i.e. three classes per week on alternate days. The male to female child ratio is usually 3:4. Children come to the camp and we provide them with the materials to design with as bringing materials daily may be a hassle for the parents.
What kind of activities do you get the children engaged in?
Well, I feel that children can learn to discipline themselves through art. I give them concept-based assignments and project-based work that helps to keep them organised and to work in a certain frame without causing any hindrance to their creativity. The main idea is to polish their imagination without imposing my ideas.
How do you feel this is beneficial for a child’s physical and mental growth?
It’s very important to see how a child reacts to different things and that gives you an idea of their state of mind. A happy child may draw a very colourful drawing, and you can then compare it to another child’s image and get an idea of what he/she is feeling. When you give a child a project, the way he/she follows instructions and the degree of interest shown by that child in a certain project tells you a lot about the child’s personality and ability. I think this is a very important feedback for the child’s parents.
What sort of projects do you get the children involved in?
I plan ahead for every class and I give them a new project each time. I also make them work with different mediums like paints, markers, colour pencils, clay, etc. For instance, we start with basic drawings like making ladybugs and dinosaurs and move ahead by making them use their imagination by, for instance, asking them to draw a ‘dream garden’. As the classes progress we use stickers and stick on butterflies, and make key chains and execute pottery. For example, in the last class, I showed them some paintings of Sadequain and asked them to draw those from their imagination. So children from different age groups perceived and drew them differently.
How supportive do you think the parents are in sending their children to summer school? Do they think their children will learn something for such an experience?
When I started, I felt that the parents were very excited for a different kind of a summer camp. Most of the children that come here go for other activities such as swimming. This is a place where parents feel their children can use their creativity for something productive which would sharpen their vision and imagination. The lounge is a tranquil place as it has windows with fresh air coming through which helps the children to relax. I feel that children are stressed too, and when I ask them to draw for me, or do a project, it helps the stress get out of their system. The summer camp is merged with art therapy and it focuses on creativity development.
What is the parents’ feedback after the summer classes?
They give me a very positive feedback. They tell me how their children are now more observant and rejuvenated. It acts as a much needed break for children from their daily routine, especially if the parents’ are not able to take their children for a vacation; this is their alternative for relaxation. —Nadia Baloch