December sees the opening of the Arts Can Do centre in Shanghai, our second centre. Shanghai Jiu Qian Volunteer Center is a privately funded center for the children of migrant workers and runs classes seven days a week. These classes are run by volunteers trained in education or teaching, and aim to enrich the learning experience of the children who often have not anther access to education. The goal of the center is to provide greater resources and learning opportunities to the children, while offering a consistent space in which to be nurtured, valued and feel part of a community.
Until now the center has not been able to provide any arts education and the Arts Can Do Centre will give children access to creative art by way of exposure to different modes of creative thinking, as well as breadth of practice: in addition to painting and drawing, children will be able to learn from practitioners of dance, theatre, creative writing, music and performance.
Australian and Chinese artists will play a big part in the centre working with the children to create works and involve them in new and exciting experiences. Artists taking part have fully funded ACAF fellowships. The ACAF fellowship involves work at an Arts Can Do centre and residency time at the ACAF studio in Beijing. Fellowships are awarded by invitation.
The two artists who will be working in Shanghai are Sophie Neate from Melbourne and Jin Shan from Beijing.
Sophie Neate is an emerging sculptor who came to ceramic sculpture via her work as a photographic artist. Trained at Victorian College of the Arts and RMIT University she has exhibited widely in Melbourne. Her work currently centres on the form and fundamental elements of everyday objects rendered as ceramic castings and explores the inner reality exposed by process of reproduction.
Jin Shan is perhaps best known for his satirical and whimsical sculptures and installations which sit on the fault lines of modern societies. He has exhibited the Venice Biennale, in New York, at Brown University and many other galleries. Jin Shan will also be bringing some of his students to volunteer working with the children,
The energy and vitality that working artists bring to working with children was clearly demonstrated at the first Arts Can Do centre in Xucun by three Australian artists Sophie Cape, Luke Sciberras and Josh Robenstone. We are sure Sophie Neate and Jin Shan will have similarly exciting impact on the children.