Children are the very essence of innocence – they’re beautiful and magical. When I’m painting them, I caress their skin with my brush, trying to portray their beauty and innocence as I feel them. There’s nothing more beautiful. Their faces portray an honesty that evokes strong feelings in me.

I remember visiting an organization in Soweto called NOAH, (Nurturing Orphans of Aid for Humanity) The volunteers at the daycare centre took care of children who were the secondary victims of the AIDS pandemic. All their parents had died of AIDS and some of the children had AIDS as well. The children put on a performance for us that was enchanting, moving and heartbreaking.

In the portraits I painted of these children, I wanted to bring out their personality and feelings. They were happy, sad, pensive and angry. They all had their individual stories, and that’s what I tried to capture.

I love black skin, its lustre and depth. I’m inspired by Giacometti’s and Modigliani’s figures of long-necked women. Both these artists were inspired by Africans and their lore.