Athlone man does art with heart

Kenneth Alexander and his granddaughter Tyla Alexander, 16., with a painting that is a tribute to all those who have lost their lives in train accidents.

Growing up,Kenneth Alexander’sparents wanted him to become an accountant, but all he wanted to do was draw.

This passion for art was put on display when Mr Alexander launched#TheGalleryinAthlone,at6Cranley Roadon Sunday, June 24, his 63rd birthday.

Attended by family, friends, and neighbours,the gallery’s opening exhibition included Mr Alexander’s paintings, some 3D artworks, and drawings, which portrayed the imbalances of South Africa’s past as well as themes such as the abuse of women.

Mr Alexander inherited his love for art from his late uncle, Roland Alexander, who was an artist but left for England as he battled to sell his work.

He said his parents never encouraged his artistic behaviour. “I was always an avid drawer and I loved my own space; I was a loner. I didn’t do art at school because I was blocked from pursuing subjects linked to art. In Grade 9, I was 15 years old, I drew my first plan. My dad was a builder, and from there I started drawing building plans,” he said.

Mr Alexanderwantsto reignite Athlone as a centre of cultural activity.

The area, home to the Eaon Group and Jazzart, was once the place to be on a Saturday afternoon when music was the order of the day and people danced in the streets of the CBD.

Mr Alexander said that with the launch of his gallery, he hoped to restore that ethos as the area was now plagued by crime and gangsterism.

“I need to bring the people back into Athlone so that they can see what it is all about instead of going out of the area. It was once a cultural hub, and I want to restore that. We need to tell the stories of the past,” he said. “I always enjoyed what I did, I loved it, I loved creating art,” he said.

In 2016 he started writing books but realised that he should have actually been drawing and so he started drawing, and six weeks ago he decided to create an art gallery. “And that is how it happened. I was very passionate about my work – I would work through the night on something, creating three to four drawings (at a time),” he said.

Mr Alexander believes you can’t wait around hoping other people will get you where you need to be.

“Change your mindset, dig deep and don’t give up. Stop waiting on other people to do things for you, use what you have and help yourself and others. That’s what I did,” he said.

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