Afghanistan 15

R0013336Up in the mountains we had no communications – no phone, radio, – certainly no TV (thank goodness). So when we returned to Kabul we were shocked (but not our friends who live there) to find out that there had been a massive bomb outside the Indian Embassy, killing and injuring so many people. We had been there only days before in a taxi. However, the art lessons continued at the Garden of Peace and Hope. I never taught the same group twice and it was impossible to know in advance what would be appropriate level to teach at, or what materials they would bring. This was another such group, and was too large really – over 30 aged from 15 to 30. I did a simple demonstration, below, showing a large tree in the garden casting a shadow on the wall behind, and asked them to do the same, but not getting into detail and focussing on the large shapes. By the way it is really hard doing a watercolour demonstration holding your piece of paper up in the air in one hand and painting it with the other at the same time as walking round the group!! 


Watercolour demonstration 8"x12"

This is the last of my Afghanistan posts. Tomorrow I move on to my windmill calendar for 2010.


~ by noelgarner on November 3, 2009.

6 Responses to “Afghanistan 15”

  1. I do like your watercolours. Very fresh and great colour.

    • Thanks Erin, a compliment from another artist is much appreciated. I looked at your gallery site and it’s interesting to see your approach to making your art more widely available. You might find my next fortnight of postings interesting because they are a selection of my paintings – mostly watercolours – which will appear shortly in a 2010 calendar I am producing with the help of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings here in the UK.

  2. How did you come to be teaching in Afghanistan? How utterly fascinating. Somehow my tripping around Europe etc seem a bit tame now!!!
    Hope you got to see something on my website. it’s being upgraded and at this minute all product has yet to be put into it’s categories.
    I really do like your working paintings. Sometimes they capture so much. Less is more etc etc.
    Will be watching this spot for calendar progress.

    • Well, it’s a long story and I can’t detail too much here. My wife and I were invited to visit some old friends who live in Kabul and run the “Garden of Peace and Hope” which is an adjunct to the National Gallery, and has the stated aim of encouraging the arts among young people. So I had the privilege of teaching both students and teachers in Kabul. They are starved of outside input, but when it is given, it must be done in a culturally aware way. I am no hero, but it is safe to say that foreign artists will not venture into Afghanistan in person because of the security situation. To be honest nor would we have done were it not for the confidence my wife and I could place in our friends’ local knowledge on all these matters. We were not disappinted. It was an awesome time! Thanks for your interest Erin. I agree on the less is more point, but I have to say I don’t spend enough time producing “finished” paintings.

  3. Noel, that is just so fascinating. How do you make sure your teaching is seen as ‘culturally aware?’ Who is checking? Sounds like you did a great job and I’m sure the students and teachers felt elated to have some fresh input on ideas and techniques.
    is it something you would do again?
    Hope the Windmills are getting plenty of wind and paintings are flying off the board.

    • Hi Erin – yes I was vague. Who is checking? My friend who lives there, who attended my classes. For example he pointed out after one of my classes that it’s not a good idea to say to Afghans “Did you understand what I said?”, even though one’s intention was good and simply was to get feedback on the point you were making. This can be taken as an impolite suggestion that they were not good at comprehension. It’s better to ask “Did I explain that point properly?” or “Did I make myself clear?” Not at all obvious to an westerner! You would be careful not to say “I want you to paint this the colour of this girl’s headscarf” without saying “Or the colour of this guy’s shirt.” Special attention to a woman can be easily misinterpreted. Some students make political points if they are doing “contemporary” art. It’s best not to comment even if you disagree with what they are saying. Especially if you are new to their country.

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