Gold Coast student, artist, and passionate fundraiser Katura Halleday isn’t letting anything stand in the way of her helping those in need. Although still in high school, Katura has time and time again demonstrated her passion for aiding those who are less fortunate, including raising funds to educate children in developing nations like Mozambique and Tanzania.
She’s doing just that with the 8×8 to Educate Art Competition and Exhibition in October. After a successful turn-out last year, the competition and exhibition has been brought back to display more art and raise money for the cause.
We had the opportunity to talk to Katura about the event, her role, and the cause behind it all.
How do you feel about these African communities that you’re working so hard to help?
My journey from somehow knowing there needed to be change in my life to truly living it, and trying to influence others started when I was offered the opportunity to go to Mozambique. The first impression, the smells, the poverty, and the lack of opportunity overtook my senses. I had left my life of privilege behind in Australia for a few weeks because I believed that education was a key factor in helping developing nations and I really wanted to be part of that.
Sounded noble, when I said it leaving Australia but to be honest, I don’t think I truly understood it until I met the people, with their generous spirit and community. Celia was the one who made the deepest impression on me. She was 13 just like me and we quickly found we enjoyed each other’s company. Her smile was infectious, as our friendship grew.
We visited her home, a square cement block room, with no windows, a tin roof in 35 degree heat. Home for her entire family of five, it would have easily fitted inside my bedroom. Her toilet and shower a simple bucket outside surrounded by plastic collected from the rubbish.
Suddenly I felt a pang of guilt for the excess of my life, that first honest realisation of the responsibility of privilege I had unknowingly been born into.
Earlier that day she had told me she wanted to be a judge when she left school. But that day at her home, as we sat interviewing her, tears began to fall down her face as she explained she wanted to be a judge to bring justice to people who have had bad thing happen to them. She has so little yet her drive in life was to help others. How can you met people like that and not want to help them to pursue their passions.
What type of art do you think people will see showcased at this competition?
We have something for everyone, last year we had children as young as five get widely creative, all the way through to a 95 year old grandma. We had works entered in oils and acrylics, watercolour pastels and even crayon, some professional artists, others picking up a brush for the first time, inspired by the case. It is about creativity and inclusion, in fact our winner last year had been painting for years and never exhibited a single piece, it was so touching to see her art recognised, and to share that journey with her. I think that is what is great about the variety of works and people who get involved, it is a safe community space.
What encouraged you to expand your reach to kids in Tanzania as well as Mozambique?
I was due to visit as school in Tanzania this year with a Service Learning experience from my school, All Saints Anglican. Because of COVID we were unable to go, but the need is still so high. Especially for girls who are at real risk of never returning to school after lockdown. Supporting these girls and keeping them connected to their schools has never been more important. We are still supporting the girls in Mozambique, and we are currently also providing monthly food packs because they have limited access to food right now, but the decision to expand to the girls in Tanzania was about ensuring they were still supported and that we were here for them too.
Considering your age, how do people respond when they hear about all that you’re doing?
Thats a funny question, everyone always thinks I am older than I am. I just have a passion and when you have that the barriers put up by being young lessen. I’ve learned that even if you are just 15 years old you can have an impact on the world. Courage to fulfil a vision comes from passion not position. It also helps to have a friends and family that are willing to support you, everyone from my parents, to friends, to art teachers, we could not hold this event without the support of some fantastic volunteers.
How was the turnout from last year’s competition and are you expecting a similar, if not bigger, result this year?
Last year we were blown away with the support of the arts community. We had entrants from every demographic and even had a few international entrants. In the end we had 187 people provide their works in support of the kids and we were overwhelmed by the crowd who turned up on opening night. There was about 250 people there, and we managed to sell every piece in the first 2 hours of the exhibition. We had aimed to raise around $3000 and the final figure was $9425 which was amazing.
This year we hope to match it, COVID of course makes things a little more difficult, but so far the amazing art community has once again rallied in support.
How would people go about getting involved?
Getting involved is super easy. Just grab some paper, or a canvas that is 8 inches x 8 inches (the right size is really important for hanging), and let your creativity run wild. Being artistic is something that is in everyone, you just have to let it out. Once you have your piece be proud, and know that you have helped someone else secure a future for themselves. Then just pop onto the website and enter. The website has all the drop off points for your work, and there is one in NSW to cover all border issues, or you can mail it in.
Opening night of the 8×8 To Educate art competition is 31 October at the Dust Temple from 5pm to 8pm all pieces are $30. Artists are able to submit their work and entries will close on 24 October. Visit 8x8toeducate.com.au for more.
IMAGE (C) Simone Gorman-Clark