Teaching Ecology through art

President Lucas
Mangope Invited Israeli artist and educationist Daphna Margolin to Bophuthatswana’s independence celebrations last month together with the deputy mayor of Tel-Aviv. She was one of the guests of honor because recently she had painted a portrait of the president when he visited Israel Although known for her portraits of famous leaders – President Anwar Sadat, Golda Meir and Menachem Begin – Daphna’s main interest is in environmental art which is the reason why she is in South Africa.
Her visual images of the destruction of our landscape are on display in Natalie Knight Gallery in Johannesburg and the Atlantic Gallery in Cape Town.
DAPHNA Margolin’s biggest concern is teaching children to become aware of their environment through education and art/ A researcher in ecology for the Israeli Education Department, she devised and is constantly updating a curriculum relating to the destruction and pollution of our environment for junior and high school pupils.
The smallest child learns about his immediate environment – his home (the disposal of garbage) and his neighborhood (keeping the streets clean) Adolescents learn about their surrounding environment how factories polluter rivers and industry destroys the landscape.
“Ecology is very much part of the Israeli education system,” said Daphna. “It is incorporated in art and agricultural courses at many of the schools children cannot pass a standard until they’ve completed an environmental project.”
What she finds particularly heartwarming is people’s awareness of an escalating problem. “It’s like watching a baby grow and develop,”
“Environmental education has made an impression on the youth. Teenagers finishing their schooling and taking up careers in business and industry won’t be enforced by law to take their environment into account. It will be natural consideration.”
Daphna, an artist, (after the working day and into the early hours of the morning) Makes her bread and butter from portraits and devotes her energy to what she calls earthscapes “rather than landscapes because they come from the earth.”
“A picture is a good visual way of drawing a problem to people’s attention.”
Her work either reflects her love for nature or depicts the damaging effects of industry on the landscape and many of these paintings are part of a permanent exhibition in Israel which has been widely acclaimed and has won her an award for her contribution to environmental art.
Recycling is another of Daphna’s interests: Old telegraph poles are used in playgrounds and cardboard egg containers to obstruct noise pollution which continually interrupts classes.
She also ensures that the children are kept informed about up-to-date methods on spraying and irrigation.
“In Israel’s we now have underground watering pipes which only water the roots of plants to avoid water wastage. Crop spraying also presented a problem as insects had become immune to poisons. Now a glue has been introduced and the insects stick to the crops.”
Daphna’s energy is endless and her love for the outdoors and children take up a large slice of her life.
In the holidays she runs family camps: ”They’re better than a five-star hotel,” she says. “Who could wish for more when you can sleep under all the stars in the sky?”
Parents and children are shown how to use nature’s resources make sand sculptures on the beach, art work from fallen leaves and twinges and hammocks in the forests...

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