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Visual arts capture students' attention

Published:Saturday | June 2, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Isabel Chang drawing a flower.
Sebastian Elliott at work.
Natalia Wynter shows one of her drawings.
Kathryn Miller with one of her paintings.
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Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

WITH MOST children fascinated with the new world of technology, very few show interest in the visual arts. However, there is a group of students in Mandeville who are keeping the fires burning in art and are dedicated students of the discipline.

They are students of La Galerie de Sebastian, run by Sebastian Elliott.

The students range from ages five to 17 and have been learning the fundamentals of drawing and painting at the institution. They are held in high esteem by their tutor, who sees them as talented individuals.

"They are susceptible to learning based on what they have grasped so far," Elliott said. "It will help them to have a better understanding and a strong foundation in terms of how to go about executing drawing or painting at their level."

Last year, the lone student from La Galerie de Sebastian who went up for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations in arts got a grade one.

"We have sent up four students this year who did well in their SBAs (school-based assessments) and I am sure we will be getting some grade ones," Elliott said.

One of this year's promising students is 17-year-old Patrick Fong, who attends Victor Dixon High School.

Another young, promising student is nine-year-old Kathryn Miller, a grade three student at El Instituto De Mandevilla, who prefers painting. Not a girl of many words, Kathryn expresses herself best in her artwork, which she describes as fun.

"Kathryn has an extraordinary imagination and ability, and if she continues to work hard, she will be one to look out for in the future," Elliott said. "She really has an extraordinary ability for her age."

Ten-year-old Natalia Wynter, a grade five student at Yabnel Care Centre, started attending art classes at the institution at age eight and is another of the institution's bright sparks. "I enjoy art because it helps me express myself," she explained. "It helps me relax when anyone makes me angry. I want to do it when I grow up."

The very outspoken Natalia said she recently discovered pastels, which she prefers to draw with. "It's easy to draw with, and it's fun when you see your hands get all messy like you are painting," she said with a broad smile.

Developing talent

One of the youngest students at the art school is five-year-old Isabel Chang, who is doing well. As her mother, Decarla Chang, disclosed, "I wanted her to do an extra-curricular activity, and I saw where this was the thing she gravitated towards. She was always drawing at home, and I noticed from the age of two, that she was way above her age in what she drew."

Little Isabel said her favourite things to draw are flowers as they are "pretty".

The art school has won many awards in competitions such as the Jamaica National Visual Arts Competition.

Elliott believes art should be promoted more in schools. "You would have more students interested in the subject. It would develop and also give students a sense of direction and purpose in their interest," Elliott said. "Art can also be used to help students with social behaviours, stress, and even kids with learning disabilities."

rural@gleanerjm.com

PHOTOS BY DAVE LINDO