THE third-year Nelson Mandela University (NMU) art students have been hard at work, sketching various aspects of the cathedral of St Mary the Virgin, for an art exhibition at the St Mary’s Cathedral Church in Central on Saturday. “It is hoped that this will be a wonderful opportunity for the art students to showcase their work to the public and at the same time create an awareness of the beauty of the magnificent Cathedral of St Mary’s which was built and completed in 1895,” council member of St Mary’s Cathedral Patty Bosman said. “Being situated in the city, in St Mary’s Terrace, St Mary’s is sadly often forgotten or even unknown to many Port Elizabethans,” she added.The art exhibition is aimed at generating much-needed funds for the maintenance of the church building. The head of department for the NMU Faculty of Arts, Dr Pieter Binsbergen, said he didn’t even have to think twice when he was approached by Bosman asking whether the art school would be interested in assisting with donating student artworks.“NMU and the art department prides itself in being involved with community-based incentives as it allows students to engage with ‘real life’ creative endeavours outside the studios and lecture halls of the university,” he explained.“The cathedral offered us a ‘real life’ drawing experience and in return the students offered two drawings each (A3 size) to the art exhibition free of charge (100% of sales to the cathedral).”The senior lecturer further explained that a third A2 drawing was retained for the art students’ evaluation portfolio. “Our approach of taking the students out of the studio and into the ‘real space’ is simply because we do not encourage copying techniques from photographs and prints,” Binsbergen said. He added that the initiative afforded students the opportunity to engage with the public as artists and more importantly see how their craft could be put to use in serving the greater community.“The project was a huge success and I am negotiating with Patty to make this a yearly calendar event which not only offers us a wider drawing opportunity but speaks to the business of sustainability. “The students would stand to benefit in the long run and the cathedral would in turn have the opportunity to continue generating funds, which to my mind seems to be an ongoing endeavour,” he added. Bosman commended the students, “Their excellent art work has captured the beauty of the church for all to see,” she said.The sketches will be on sale at the art exhibition which will take place from 9:30am to 3:30pm.