This week I’m working at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne. I’m running workshops for kids, examining, interacting and reacting to the sculpture garden around Heide. It’s incredible to introduce kids to sculpture.
Most of the workshops are with 3 and 4 year olds. Their energy and enthusiasm (most of the time) is incredible. Their volume, too, has to be heard to be believed
I introduced them to the word (and idea) of Sculpture. As we wandered around the sculpture garden, they excited and loudly pointed out every time they saw one. That was pretty cool, that they were that excited about the concept. We discussed shapes, and what the shapes reminded us of, we discussed colour and the stories that might be made from the artwork. My favourite one was that we could ride a rocket ship to the moon, launching off one of the works.
When they saw the iron cows in the back paddock, they all excitedly ran over, crouched underneath them and pretended to milk them, shouting “milk, milk, milk!” I asked them how they knew how to milk a cow. They told me that they’d been to the Collingwood Children’s Farm and had all milked the cows. I thought that was awesome. Not only have they been to visit a farm and now know how to milk a cow, but they translated that knowledge to a sculpture in a park and pretended to milk that too.
The kids also get taken into one of the current Heide exhibitions, the Colour Bizarre. The first work that greets you as you come in the door is Emily Floyd’s work, Steiner Rainbow*
It’s an incredibly beautiful work and the kids all love it. They come back talking about it.
We also make books, and fill the pages with drawings. Sometimes they draw the sculptures they have seen and sometimes they draw other things, their families, their friends, their house and garden. But over and over, they draw the rainbow they’ve seen.
Kids are little sponges, soaking up everything they experience, and it’s incredible to work with them and see how they process it all.
I did have one group of teenagers, and we were examining a sculpture called Unfurling (I’ll have to find the artist’s name tomorrow) and they remarked on how it’s got heaps of spider webs in the inside crease. One boy asked if someone cleaned it out. I said to him “Some artists plan it like that, that bits of nature, spiders, leaves, dirt, become part of the sculpture over time. Like different ends of the scale, artificial and…” And at that moment his eyes lit up as understanding hit him and he said “… and nature, right?” And at that moment, what they call a Light Bulb moment, that’s one of the reasons I love teaching. Helping someone to understand something awesome, something they didn’t know before. Not TELLING them something, but helping them come to their own realisation about things.
I love my job.
Image from the Heide website here: http://www.heide.com.au/exhibitions/colour_bazaar?exhib=51