As with the other art clubs, the way we are planning and delivering Mini Art Club has changed. Before, we used to choose a different exhibition, artwork and theme to respond to each month, which meant that each session would be noticeably different from the last. Now, we are taking one theme as a starting point and repeating similar activities and creating similar installation spaces over a three-month block.
Over the past three months, Mini Art Club has taken the theme of the ‘Battle Between Hard & Soft’ as a starting point, focusing on different artworks by Joana Vasconcelos, in contrast with the cold, hard architecture of gallery spaces and also the hardened male forms of classical sculpture. We’ve re-used different objects and materials to enable tactile, sensory exploration within the gallery. This has been extremely useful as a way to interpret the textures and soft/hard forms of artworks such as ‘Britannia’, ‘Big Booby’, ‘Heathcliff’ and ‘Esther’ all by Vasconcelos.
We’ve also played around with changing the way we structure studio spaces, considering the lay-out and combinations of different materials, such as salt dough, domestic metal objects, soft textiles, balloons and a number of other intriguing items. In February, we focused on clearly dividing hard and soft materials in two studios. In March, we placed only soft materials in one studio and hard materials in the other and, finally, this month we mixed things up a little in both studios. As with previous sessions, we’ve also kept our original format of a studio filled with natural light, allowing the opportunity to explore a wet material, followed by entering a darkened, immersive space in the second studio.
This has been an exciting experiment in using the same elements in different ways and seeing how this changes interaction and levels of engagement. Interestingly, the children who have returned each month have gone back to the same items each time and had the opportunity to extend the way they work with them. For example, I watched a little boy play endlessly with a black toy car, imagining he was driving it through black salt dough ‘mud’, black and gold paint, leaving different tyre tracks and prints. Meanwhile another little girl has found new ways each time to wrap her body in soft materials both wet and dry.
In summary, it really pays to stretch out a theme to explore endless possibilities and give time to young children to re-visit familiar spaces with the chance to try something a little different each time!
Michiko Fujii, April 2014