Meet the Correspondent: Omar Jaramillo > Berlin$show=/search/label/Omar%20Jaramillo

"I was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where I studied architecture. I moved to Kassel (Germany) in 1999 to accomplish a master degree. Although I have always drawn and paint, it was not until I started studying in the Uni-Kassel, that I started keeping a travel sketchbook. I had a teacher there who used to do a lot of sketches when he travelled on university excursions. When he retired, I helped to organize an exhibition of his sketches. He brought a huge box full of sketchbooks he had filled since he was an architecture student. I spent a whole day selecting the most interesting drawings. It was a wonderful experience that opened my eyes to a new world. In the last 10 years I have the feeling of being in a long journey. I like to discover the cities where I live, to understand why a place is the way it is and what makes it different and unique from others. Drawing is for me a way to learn to love a place, to become part of it. I like to draw architecture but I am more attracted to urban scenery, portraying how people live in the city. Since I’m a foreigner, everything that locals find normal and taken-for-granted, for me is exotic. I always carry a small watercolor travel set from Windsor and Newton and my sketchbook in my bag. I always thought that drawing was a solitary experience until I found Urban Sketchers. It was amazing to find so many people doing the same thing. It is a great place to share!" • Omar's blog. • Omar's art on flickr. • Omar's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

The Constitutional Court and the Kids

I was invited last week by the director of the Constitutional Education Programme, Paula Rainha, who found me through Urban Sketchers, to come and draw with a group of children from Hillbrow at the beautiful Constitutional Court. Previously the notorious Old Fort Prison Complex, it was a place of fear, misery and loathing in the years before our democratic changes. Unfortunately I saw the email too late to attend every afternoon of 'Kidsweek', but joined the oldest group of 12-15 year olds on Friday.
I did the above sketch of the front of the court last year on a visit with a friend. Constitutional Hill has been transformed into a deeply symbolic place. Parts of its dark past are preserved as reminders of when many activists, including Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Walter Sisulu were detained and persecuted here. The Court itself has been beautifully designed and built as an uplifting new space. Everything from the lettering on the facade, the angled pillars and wire chandeliers inside, the large transparent windows, to the bricks carefully dismantled from prison cells and reformed into the walls of the Court, have significance and symbolism. Even the doors, light fittings, sun screens and security gates have been designed by artists, and it is filled with artwork mostly donated by South African artists - from the very famous like William Kentridge and Marlene Dumas to humble street and rural craftsmen and women - mainly due to the efforts of retired Judge Albie Sachs.  
The kids first sat in the courtroom and asked and answered questions about about our constitution, human rights, and the history and significance of the buildings
They then separated into smaller groups around and outside the building and were given clipboards with paper, pencils, pastels and crayons.
I sat with a group who were drawing portraits of previous and current court judges from a wall of photographs, and sketched them drawing. The level of concentration was high from all of us and the afternoon flew past. What a lovely opportunity. And I met a group of young student volunteers who were helping, from nearby universities and art schools - who are keen to come and do some urban sketching and Sketchcrawls! Thanks to Paula for asking me along!

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