HANGAR1 started collaborating with The Tempelhof Shelter in May 2016. Before that, we were operating at the Schöneberg Teske Schule. However, the Schöneberg center closed and its residents moved to Tempelhof.
The first time we came with our bags full of supplies, we were completely overwhelmed and the bags disappeared within seconds. What remained were about five colour pencils and one white paper block. Given the circumstances, carrying out the first workshop was a challenge!
This happened over and over again. Once, with the temperature up around 35 degrees, the kids creating mayhem on the airport grounds, and the teenagers kicking footballs in the direction of our heads, we were completely outnumbered and had to close the workshop early. Looking back, I think about this chaotic day and reflect on how we managed that situation. Fatma – a little girl from Afghanistan I absolutely loved – had a little accident all over my clothes. To put it nicely, I got a pretty good impression of motherhood; at least for five minutes.
We continued with the workshops and began to earn the trust of the children. We learned their names, their nationalities and remembered exactly what they liked. Now each week they are waiting for us when we arrive, shouting our names, hugging us and engaging in all the activities. They are actually listening to our instructions, who would have thought that?
From drawing butterflies and being demanded manicures, one day we surprisingly found ourselves with beautiful canvases featuring abstract paintings. Another day, we were out of ideas and remembered that in our storage space, we had an old Ikea blind that resembled a massive canvas. We gathered some acrylics and masking tape, and let the kids do whatever they pleased with the supplies. The results continually surprises us. From simple flowers, butterflies and other figurative sketches, the kids created abstract and completely unique images. We saw Pollock in Iman, Rothko’s brushstrokes all over, and then when we took off the tape, the kids they added their last and very personal touches.
Several of these art pieces will be shown in our Art Auction and Exhibition, together with works that the women and teenager girls from the Shelter have produced under Give Something Back to Berlin’s initiative Open Art Shelter, on April 6th, 2017 in SomoS Art House.
Words: María Paula Fernández + Esther Levy-Fenner