We currently have close friends performing in Kaldor Public Art Projects 13 Rooms, a ‘living sculpture’ exhibition showing at Walsh Bay in Sydney. The nature of some of the work being shown has raised questions about whether certain aspects are appropriate for children. We are interested in provoking a dialogue about the relevance of contemporary artwork in public contexts to the life and experience of a child. What is the impact of children being exposed to work that is not designed specifically for young eyes? As the creators of BIG Kids Magazine we are interested in inviting children into public art spaces in age appropriate ways where their views are valued and they are supported to participate and contribute to cultural conversations.
As artists, gallery and theatre spaces are like home to us and as such our children are growing up with these environments as part of their everyday lives. We believe in the importance of inviting ALL children into contemporary arts spaces from a young age. Lucky for us in Australia most of the major galleries have wonderful arts programs geared towards children and families that help kids engage and respond to work that is usually curated for an adult audience.
BIG is very much interested in inviting children into the process and rigorous practice of art making and exposing them to original work and live performance. Theatre and gallery spaces can provoke different ways of seeing, provide opportunities to develop personal perspectives and unique points of view, as well as open doors to new kinds of conversations between kids and grown ups. While galleries tend to invite a particular kind of attention, engagement and behaviour that some might find stifling or difficult, there are many ways to support even very young children to have positive and deeply impacting experiences. Early exposure to complex, creative and diverse environments offers children an opportunity to begin a lifelong relationship with creative thinking and the arts. With support galleries can become fertile and inspiring environments for children where they can develop expressive language and confidence in their own unique opinions.
Galleries are public spaces. However, so often we have found talking to friends that they feel they are ‘not for them’ that the art gallery is an exclusive place for ‘people in the know’. Major galleries can feel overwhelming, but by considering simple parameters and realistic expectations the experience is often shared, rich and memorable. We advocate to empower grown-ups to help their kids understand the culture of the environment and what is expected of them in real and practical ways through our ongoing sharing of BIG ideas.
Tomorrow we will post a response to the experience of viewing 13 Rooms with a 4 year old. We will definitely be going for a babycino beforehand to talk about ways of navigating the adventure together!
Twyla, age 4, responding to a work at White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney