Introducing the ‘Junk Playground’

For the next three months,  Baby Art Club is inspired by our major exhibition ‘The Sensory War 1914-2014’. Marking the Centenary of the First World War, the exhibition explores how Artists have communicated the impact of military conflict on the body, mind, environment and human senses between 1914 and 2014.

It is difficult to find something appropriate for our audience of babies and their parents/carers within this incredibly sensitive subject matter. You might also think it impossible to find a positive legacy of War particularly for the children around whilst it took place. This is for the most part true, however out of the Second World War came the NHS and the beginnings of great out door play areas, things our children can still benefit from today.

During the Second World War children in bombed parts of Britain made the rubble their own, turning the devastation into playgrounds. This inspired the ‘Junk Playground’ and the development of better, more imaginative places of play for children after the War. You can find out more here; http://www.londonplay.org.uk/content/29961/play_in_london/adventure_play_in_london/history/the_history_of_adventure_play

I have created my own ‘Junk Playground’ for Baby Art Club, There is a giant ‘crawl’ space for adults and babies to find sanctuary in, play and re-imagine a selection of materials that relate to building new homes. A homage to the NHS can be found with a collection of bandages, providing soft sensory experiences. There are rocks and boxes to build up, clay to explore and buckets to empty and re-fill, as well as, silver emergency blankets to snuggle into or rustle. ‘The News’ is also available to be re-appropriated, ripped, twisted, sat upon or lain under in the form of lots and lots of newspapers.

Houses are projected around the room, as a reminder of the houses that stood before the bombs, and the new homes to be built. Sound Artist Najia Bagi has provided sounds from the 1940’s including ‘Glen Miller’ on mini radios hidden within the installation.

Whilst researching for this series of Baby Art Clubs I came across the BBC archive of World War Two memories, written accounts from people who were there, many of whom were children at the time. There are many fascinating and moving stories here if you would like to know what life was like for the original ‘Junk Playground’ inhabitants and their parents.

Family Life: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/categories/c1167/

Childhood and Evacuation: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/categories/c1162/

By Naomi Kendrick, Baby Art Club Artist