Picasso spent most of his later life trying to draw like a child. I didn’t have the faintest idea what he meant, until I was commisioned to enhance children’s drawings for a book called My Children’s Act, a massively difficult project and a huge achievement by Emma Attwell, who is herself the mother of two adopted children, both with different health challenges. Emma managed to simplify very complicated legislation to a level that children can understand, and produced a 48 page book which is appealing to any child.
Many of the abuses in South Africa happen because the perpetrators count on the children’s ignorance of their rights and I believe this book addresses that problem. It was a privilege to work on it, and it certainly opened my eyes to the beauty in children’s drawings. There were drawings (for a subsequent poster) that I would have been keen to blow up to door size and hang on my wall. The lines are pure and beautiful and impossible to imitate.
So I now know what Picasso was talking about. Some of the pages had to be illustrated by me, trying my best to cajole my inner child into action. But her efforts were ruined by my artistic training, which crept in constantly… even when I attempted one picture with my left hand. It took half a day, so I gave up on that, and went back to my right hand for the other pics, resigning myself to a reasonable facsimile of childlike simplicity.
The book is available from Child Welfare Cape Town – contact them on 021 6383127. View the book and the efforts of the young artists by clicking on the image.