The Hungry Red Lion - Art and Empowerment at Rorke's Drift, Thabana Li Mele and Oodi by Peder Gowenius
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‘Because of the oppression it was a desert. When a desert is watered the most beautiful flowers come out very quickly. This is what happened.’



PEDER GOWENIUS and his late wife Ulla, under the auspices of the Swedish Committee for the Advancement of African Arts and Crafts, started the renowned art and craft centre at Rorke’s Drift in KwaZulu-Natal in 1962, followed by Thabana Li Mele Art and Craft Centre in Lesotho and Oodi Weavers in Botswana.



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The Hungry Red Lion is an extraordinary story of selfless commitment: Peder and Ulla Gowenius achieved what many would today consider impossible: they encouraged, educated and empowered rural Africans young and old to weave, pot, carve, print and make art as a means of making a sustainable living. Some of their pupils went on to train as teachers in Sweden and then return to KwaZulu-Natal to share their knowledge. Together with their trainees, they achieved what many would today consider impossible.



about the author - Peder Gowenius

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PEDER GOWENIUS [1936– ] studied sculpture at Konstfack, Stockholm, Sweden’s largest university of art, craft and design. In 1959 he married fellow student and textile designer ULLA KYLBERG [1934–2005]. In 1970 Peder and Ulla were forced to leave Lesotho due to political unrest. Having attracted the attention of the South African Security Police while in and out of South Africa, Peder was declared a Prohibited Immigrant and arrested and deported. Since returning to Sweden in 1978, Peder has taught art at all levels with a specific interest in developing children’s pictorial language.