By LOUISE PAGE
Convinced you can’t REALLY draw but feel compelled to try anyway? No matter: you’re gently guided onwards from the stick figures of that first lesson, learning to hush the overbearing logical left brain – dictating that drawing a house means producing a square topped by a triangle as roof – and coax the creative right brain into “drawing what you actually see, not what you think you see”, words that resonate during many more drawing classes to come.
Twenty years ago Sally Scott arrived in what was then Grahamstown and set up her artist studio in Sunnyside. Since then, many hundreds of people from all walks of life have ventured through her doors to take part in either her weekly drawing classes or one of the various workshops that she offers.
To celebrate 20 years – some of it in Grahamstown, some of it in Makhanda – she’s staged an exhibition, suitably titled Drawing Together, that opened at Cafe Delizzia last Sunday and will remain open during the National Arts Festival. It features some of Scott’s work, but more importantly, that of her students – many of them well know personalities in this town.
Gentle encouragement is the guiding principle; as one student says: “Sally has helped me to lose my inhibitions about drawing and just do it. I’m so enjoying the journey and this wonderfully creative hobby.” Another student says that knowing she doesn’t have to ‘perform’ in any way or rush or keep up with any ‘standard’ has been utterly liberating.
Students soon begin to master the fundamentals of light and dark, shape and texture, proportion and tone. “I amazed myself with my own creativity”, says one student. “When I first started attending classes, I could hardly draw a stick figure; with Sally’s loving guidance, I’ve really improved”.
Equally valuable, for many, is the sense of togetherness during classes, echoed in the exhibition’s title: “You meet people of all kinds you wouldn’t normally meet, in this wonderfully calming and quietly social space,” says a boutique owner. For another student, the classes are “just awesome, with wonderful company and unbelievable inspiration flowing from Sally and your fellow drawing students”.
The sense of support and soothing calm extend beyond Sally’s warm smile, gentle encouragement and comprehensive instruction; a smorgasbord of edible delights periodically appears – to celebrate a retirement, the birth of a grandchild or a marriage proposal, or simply to offer succour in the face of life’s curveballs. “As I walk into the studio, I feel as though I leave my troubles behind me”, says a mother of five. “You just lose yourself in your drawing. For those two hours, I just don’t think about anything else and I leave class feeling utterly refreshed”.
Drawing Together, an exhibition of works from the Sally Scott studio, runs from 23 June-7 July at Cafe Delizzia, 112 High Street.