Memories of Colin Richards
It is with sadness that we hear of the passing of Colin Richards:
My first meeting with Colin was in the mid-eighties. His interest in the use of art as a healing tool changed my direction in art.
I was studying fine art at UNISA and involved with a diverse group of artists in Cape Town called the Visual Artists Group which operated out of the Community Centre in Woodstock. These artists all had a common purpose – namely resistance to the Nationalists Government and its policy of apartheid.
On a visit to Johannesburg I met with a similar group led by Colin Richards. Colin had returned from London where he studied art therapy at Goldsmiths College, London University. Colin was very enthusiastic about the course and the use of art in healing. At that time the emotional health of both Black and White South Africans was strained.
Colin had many plans for art therapy in South Africa. He advocated training whereby it would be possible for a person to do a six month course which would qualify them to practice art therapy on a very basic level. These courses would be added to over time leading to full qualification, recognition and registration by The Health Professions Council. In the mean time the “bare-foot” art therapists could work where they were most needed, often in township communities.
Colin was a young man bursting with energy and very willing to assist anyone with advice on how to study art therapy. Some of Colin’s plans came to fruition, such as the art therapy centre in Soweto he set up with Maggie Makhoana. Unfortunately his wish for an art therapy teaching establishment in South Africa has not yet come about. Training and academic qualifications is still only accessible overseas. This entails expensive education fees as well as high travel and accommodation costs for a lengthy period. Currently art therapy is well established with 15 registered and practicing in South Africa. There are several others who are trained but not registered.
It is with great sadness that I recall my last meeting with Colin a few months ago at Michaelis where he was a Professor of Fine Art.
RUTH RUSSELL PEIN