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The Stellenbosch Triennale Imaginarium: Growing art lovers and critical thinkers

The town of Stellenbosch gears up to host an extraordinary series of events, next year, when the first Stellenbosch Triennale will play host to some of the world’s most sought after artists responding to the complex present, historical realities and future possibilities.

The Stellenbosch Triennale, brainchild of the Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust, will take place from 11 February to 30 April in 2020. Venues across the town will exhibit works in response to the theme of the Triennale Tomorrow There Will Be More of Us.

In addition to artworks by practitioners of contemporary art from Africa, the Triennale will also provide a unique learning opportunity for all in its vicinity.

Known as The Imaginarium, the carefully engineered platform will be a supplementary, online, open source (i.e. free) discovery and learning resource centre for all ages. This exciting experience will be accessed through the Triennale website, and will be designed to stimulate the imagination while supporting 21st Century learning skills.

Prior to the launch of the Stellenbosch Triennale online content, workshops which put this theory into practice have already begun.

Workshops and lessons are being held at the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography. Here, Grade 5’s from Devon Valley Primary and Grade 9’s from Kayamandi High School attend The Imaginarium workshops to supplement their school curriculum, and bring their studies to life. Research is conducted, mapping the impact of content.

Of all the platforms being launched at the Triennale, no other is as important as its accompanying educational platform; it is here that the opportunity for broad-based understanding of the artistic motives behind the curated platforms will become apparent.

By clicking through the Triennale website, The Imaginarium will take users to a virtual learning environment designed to stimulate imagination and support 21st Century learning skills.

According to Stellenbosch Triennale Project Director Andi Norton, “Curiosity, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Compassion, Composure, Citizenship and Culture will be explored through activities, worksheets, case studies and multi-media digital content.”

Norton is a strategic development consultant specialising in art and education, and is a founding member of the Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust (SOST), as well as the Deloitte KickstART programme.


The Imaginarium in context

“Through The Imaginarium we aim to show that learning can be creative, colourful and fun. Anyone will be able to access the free content, from a teacher in rural Eastern Cape to an after-school facilitator in Lagos, Nigeria,” Norton says.

“The whole premise behind the Imaginarium is that it introduces supplementary resources, supplementary learning opportunities and supplementary alternatives, or additions, to the curriculum.”

As stated, work has already begun on The Imaginarium in the form of pilot projects that include workshops for Grade 5 and Grade 9 learners. These real life experiences have happened in the home languages of the learners – in Afrikaans for Devon Valley Primary School, and isiXhosa for learners from Kayamandi Secondary School. Both schools are located in the Stellenbosch district.

Norton remarks that, “It is astonishing to see how children can think differently and positively when they are learning and speaking in their own languages. They don’t need that interim phase of having to translate in their heads.”

Planning for the Imaginarium is happening on three levels:

Digital platform: In consultation with Q Division, a Cape Town based company of innovation entrepreneurs, the Stellenbosch Triennale has decided to conduct their education programme on a dedicated website and, alternatively, on the simple WhatsApp platform. Here information will be distributed to learners, parents and teachers in the most unreachable of places.

“When I think of The Imaginarium,” Norton says, “I think of a teacher in a classroom in the Eastern Cape. She knows what she wants to teach, and there are enthusiastic learners, but she is just not sure what to do with the children. This is going to offer ideas about what can be done, which will stimulate the magical Cs that 21st Century learning methods are all about: caring about students; controlling behavior; clarifying ideas; challenging students; captivating students; conferring feedback and consolidating what is taught.”

The remaining two levels of The Imaginarium are real life workshops, already mentioned, where the theory is put into practice, and school tours that will take place during the two and a half months of the Triennale.

And for the visitor experience, of all ages, The Imaginarium content will be used to enhance guide information for the tours around the Stellenbosch Triennale next year.

The Imaginarium is funded by Remgro Limited, whose head office is in Stellenbosch, and whose focus, in their corporate social investment initiatives, is amongst other things, education, because Tomorrow Matters.

As a result of all these forces, The Imaginarium of the 2020 Stellenbosch Triennale is designed to boost the imagination of the young and old, in the belief that it is never too early or late to realise one’s creative potential.

The Stellenbosch Triennale takes place from 11 February to 30 April 2020.

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