Unveiling a world of fine art in my grandmother’s house
A fine art gallery in a village is unheard of. Having worked at festivals, exhibitions and galleries worldwide, Samkela Stamper’s experience led her to discover the one thing she really wanted: to create change back home. “Some of the best artists in the world come from rural areas, and yet there’s so little support for them,” she says. Inspired by her late grandmother’s legacy in the municipality of Ngqushwa in the Eastern Cape, Stamper did the unthinkable.
Most children in townships who set out to be artists have no access to fine art. “There’s no art education in these areas,” Stamper says. “That’s why it’s important for me to go to the community and teach.” Her youth was spent absorbing her grandmother’s powerful example. The family matriarch was a school inspector, dedicated to her community. “She taught me you can do something out of nothing,” Stamper says. Drawing on the values laid out before her, Stamper decided to turn her grandmother’s house into an exhibition centre. Named after her, the Thandeka Stamper Art Gallery is a platform for all to engage with their potential. “She would have wanted me to do this,” Stamper says.
At the gallery, schoolchildren crowd to try their hand at new crafts daily, visitors marvel at the talent of their neighbours, and artists gather to collaborate. Stamper’s vision for the future includes free Wi-Fi for students and a community garden. “It is necessary for every child to have access to this kind of space,” she says. In creating recognition for locals, Stamper is giving artists from rural villages the platform they have always deserved.