About ’31Pillows’


’31 Pillows’ was a fundraiser exhibition of art made by children from the Familia Moja Children’s Home that was held in Sydney in June 2012. The show exhibited artwork made by Famila Moja Children, Lottie Consalvo and James Drinkwater who went to teach art at the home earlier this year. In addition to showcasing the talent of the children, the exhibition raised $17,000+ to complete building the children their own home. All money from sales and the preview dinner go directly to the project. Artwork is still available on this website. 


ARTIST STATEMENT, James Drinkwater and Lottie Consalvo

We have been living between Australia and Europe for three years. We wanted to immerse ourselves in another culture, learn, engage and see new land. We wanted to cut through, direct to the heart. We approached Jess White, co founder of Familia Moja Children’s Home in Mang’u, Kenya about the possibility of sculpting an artist in residence program which would include teaching and making art.

We found out that art did no exist in their schools, this made us realise how valuable our contribution could be. We decided to go for six weeks; we would teach and produce work based on our experience.

We had elaborate plans of how we would teach but quickly learnt that only a loose and simple structure was needed, ultimately it was the children and their energy that drove the lessons.

Word traveled fast around the village and surrounding schools that two Mzungu’s (White people) were teaching with colour. Soon we were racing the clock to keep up with classes at Mang’u primary, Kairi primary, Mangu primary special needs class and Familia Moja. We darted around town on the back of motorbikes with Shiru our friend and translator, it was magic.

Tight and careful to begin with we confiscated rulers, compasses and erasers. Fascinated by new materials, empowered and consumed by creativity the work became expressive, confident and sophisticated. We had no idea how strong the work would be or how close we would become with the children. Moved by the experience we both produced a suite of works on paper. We had no expectations or pre conceived ideas of what would happen or what the outcome would be. The idea of doing a show in Sydney manifested.

On our last day while the children were at school we hung an open air exhibition of their work in the court yard of their home. The yard where they cook, wash, grow and play. The exhibition included a large mural that they painted in their last lesson with us. The mural now hangs in their dining room where they meet, share meals and do homework. When they returned home from school they beamed with pride eager to point out which work belonged to them, this was the official opening and they were the stars.

We announced that the exhibition would be traveling to Sydney and that it would help to finish building their new home.

We slept there that night, weary we climbed into the rickety bunks in the dorms of their home. Independent and strong the children put themselves into bed; there were 31 pillows for 31 heads.

James Drinkwater and Lottie Consalvo 2012