Art + Play is a touring exhibition initiated by 20:21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe. For this project I collaborated with Kathryn Welford – my sister. This has been our first collaboration of this kind, and it’s been great fun working together. Six artists in total were commissioned to make an artwork that was targeted at under 5’s and allowed that age group to interact or ‘play’ with it. Making something that could be grown-up art as well as a play object for small children was pretty tricky!
Part of the project involved spending time in a nursery and a reception class, which proved immensely useful and enjoyable (a post of the process and pictures will follow). We were excited by the research focus of the project and the opportunity to watch how children imagine, invent, explore and create, and to create new work in response to this. We really liked the open-endedness of the brief, and the challenge of bringing together ‘Art’ and ‘Play’ as equal components within the creative process.
We became interested in how materials or environments affect how children behave; how certain ‘stimuli’ encourage careful, curious moments and how children behave in uncharacteristic or a-typical ways because of the materials or environments they are given to explore. We wanted to challenge preconceptions of play and of what young children are believed to like or enjoy. So, instead of creating something that was robust and solid, we created a delicate installation using sheets of silk chiffon and white ring reinforcements. We positioned the artwork thoughtfully to make it more likely that children explored it in a slow and careful way. We also provided sheets of white ring reinforcements so that children (and grown-ups) could spend time peeling and sticking stickers onto the chiffon, which requires careful concentration.
Titled ‘Uh-uh! A snowstorm! A swirling, whirling snowstorm.’ the artwork was developed taking the book ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen as a starting point. It uses light and translucency to create depth and a sense of being engulfed in gentle snowfall. The chiffon is responsive to even slight air currents and almost appears to breath as one walks past.