In late January, Stairway Foundation had the pleasure of bringing the painter Henri Lamy, who introduced a new and unique style of painting to the children of the foundation. His style, which is influenced by impressionism, involves acrylic paint and the Brazilian dance and martial arts form, capoeira. The purpose of the workshop was the broadening of the children’s creative horizons. Many of the youth of Stairway are not exposed to art from their backgrounds, and Stairway’s Family Home program puts a special emphasis on creative expression as a form of therapy and aid to development. And so through this stimulating and entertaining workshop with Henri, we discovered another unique way to express ourselves.
The team gathered in the common area, canvas in hand, to pick a photo for their project. The photos were taken and provided by Magnus, a volunteer at Stairway. The children along with Henri proceeded to the gallery where they were assigned to paint an interpretation of the landscape they had chosen, using pallet knifes as their primary tool giving an abstract and rugged effect.
Cheers and laughs were widespread as Henri guided the children through their painting. It was impressive to see the results of the Stairway Boys’ efforts. Each version of the same portrait differed greatly from child to child, varying in shade, color and tone.
This was only a warm up though. After they had completed their individual projects, the class marched up to the front yard of the main house to find a large canvas hanging. Thus began the main project, capoeira painting.
Henri kicked off quite literally by demonstrating a few of the capoeira kicks and movements. It was apparent in the eyes of the students that they were intrigued by how he hopped and kicked with grace and ease. In a short amount of time Henri had all the boys paired up, practicing their newly learned sparring skills. Now came the really fun part.
Henri had two of the boys stand in front of the canvas and perform a sparring routine, at which at the last kick, one of the boys would unleash a barrage of color and paint while his partner would do his best to avoid it. The first Jackson Pollock-esque splashes colored the blank sheet and the children all clamored eagerly to be next. Not to worry though, they would all have a chance to make a contribution to the potential masterpiece.
With the canvas covered in paint, and the boys exhausted from all the kicks and showered in a rainbow of acrylics, the work of art was almost complete. Henri and the boys gathered in front and admired it together. It had been a success, everybody satisfied with the efforts they had put into the piece. After it had had a chance to dry Henri rolled up the canvas. He was taking it back to fine tune the painting. In a couple of weeks time Henri would exhibit this piece, alongside others of his own works at the Museo Pambata in Manila, where the proceeds of the sold works will go to aide various organisations.
We would like to once again thank Henri Lamy for collaborating with Stairway and it’s youth in bringing this unique and creative aspect to them.
Alexander Selawry/Zachery Jørgensen