A two-day exhibition of artwork next month will be the culmination of an innovative and international project in which local Arts Societies (Nerja, Costa del Sol and Benahavís) have collaborated with the Museo Jorge Rando in Malaga and the NGO Aldeas Infantiles SOS (SOS-Children's Villages) day centre in El Palo.
The project came about through previous collaboration between the centre in El Palo and the museum, as well as through the contact that the museum had with Helen Sijsling, Chair of the Nerja Arts Society. Sijsling said of the society's involvement in the project, "We believe art enriches, empowers, soothes and stimulates."
Three groups are making art to exhibit: young children, teenagers and a small group of parents, who use the services at the centre in El Palo. Sessions have taken place at the Jorge Rando museum and at the centre in El Palo throughout spring. Each workshop has been led by a professional art teacher, who has introduced the participants to different techniques of expressionist painting from acrylic to watercolour and gouache to collage.
Antonio Rodríguez, Director of the El Palo centre, said, "The families and children are super excited about the exhibition. They get to see a museum as a living space, not just as a boring place full of paintings and they can identify with the art they are creating."
The SOS Aldeas Infantiles day centre in El Palo opened in March 2017 and currently offers its services to around 50 children and teenagers between the ages of five and 16 from 35 families.
They work closely with social services teams in the east of Malaga district to provide help to families with a wide range of needs. Staff at the centre help the children with anything from homework to social and cultural development. The centre has a network of volunteers who help out with a wide range of projects, from gardening to art.
Antonio Cabello, who is an educator at the centre and is closely involved in the project, told SUR in English that the centre sees art as a way for people to "express themselves emotionally".
He explained that through the projects run at the centre, users learn about "self-awareness, teamwork, respect and family", all aspects that many take for granted, but are more difficult to appreciate for some of the children and families who go through the centre's doors.
The Arts Society's objective through this project is to use art as a tool to enable children and their parents to encourage teamwork, positivism and creative expression as well as the development of their self-esteem and values.
Yvonne Sjokvist, Chair of the Arts Society Costa del Sol, told SUR in English that projects like this are at the very heart of what the Arts Society aims to do.
"As a charitable association we are delighted to be able to support this project. We know from previous Young Arts Projects how much the arts can help young people to express their feelings and to develop beneficial life skills such as imagination and creativity and to build self-esteem and social skills."
Sjokvist added, "I visited one of the workshops with the mothers and what a delight! It was clear that the mothers and Enrique Agusti Lafuente, the artist, were having a good time together and that they enjoyed their class and were proud of their work. Heart-warming."
Jorge Rando is a Malaga-born artist. Speaking earlier this year when the museum announced its plans to collaborate with the NGO, museum director Vanesa Díez said that one of the principal objectives of the museum is to "stimulate the artistic capacity of all people who find themselves in a situation of vulnerability".
The exhibition will be inaugurated on 10 June and will be open to the public until 12 June during the normal museum opening hours.
SOS-Children's Villages is a global federation and is a member of Unesco. It was founded in 1949 in Imst, Austria, and works with children and families in 135 countries.
"The families and children are super excited about the exhibition"
"The project is a good way for the children to express themselves emotionally"
"We are delighted to be able to support this project."
"We believe art enriches, empowers, soothes and stimulates."