Showing posts with label Great for kids'. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Great for kids'. Show all posts

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Barbara Hepworth at Tate Britain: a Twitter Tour

On the strength of my post 'Tate Britain from the Floor', which you can see here, I was invited to do a Twitter Tour for the Barbara Hepworth exhibition at Tate Britain for the @tate_kids account.

So today I took over the @tate_kids account and tweeted our visit, a virtual tour of the exhibition, sharing our family's experiences. I say 'family', we also took a friend, nine year old charlie. So here's my tour, as you can see it's not my Twitter account, it's the Tate Kids, but it's all me.

Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World is on at Tate Britain until 25th October 2015. Details on their website, here.
It is a paying exhibition and I have to thank Tate Britain for inviting us to see it.

Update: I made a mistake. I have to admit I'm not 42. In all the excitement, I knocked a few years off my age. Thanks to a lovely friend who felt she had to point this out.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Four kids go to the Horniman Museum

What to do in the summer holidays?
Especially when your mum is working. Well firstly, have friends over, prevents boredom and therefore lessens the potential for squabbling, then perhaps go out. So we organised for a friend each to come over and a trip to the Horniman Museum, where I was working that afternoon in the Discovery For All session in the Hands-on Base.

The Hands-on Base in the Horniman Museum is exactly what it says it is. A gallery full of objects to touch. I armed the kids with a camera and was intrigued to find out what they got up to, what they looked at and and what exactly captured their imagination.

They began with the 'Teeth' Discovery Box.

Silver teeth.

Fossilised teeth, a mammoth's.

Wooden teeth.

Photo opportunity teeth.
Everyone does this with the shark's jaw.

Next the 'Toys' Discovery Box.

Toys from recycled materials.

As a student I remember playing Mancala but have long since forgotten the rules.
However, another family hadn't forgotten and they taught my kids how to play. They sat and played Mancala for ages, two groups of visitors who hadn't met before. I love that! 

This wasn't their only opportunity to meet and interact with other visitors. The Puffer fish often draws people together.  

We learn from a family from Ecuador that in Spanish it is called a "balloon fish". "Cool!"

They swap the camera and take photos of each other.

 They listen,

...perform, on their own,


... dance,

...and wonder how long this snake would had been were the head and tail still attached.

  Of course a museum visit is not all about the objects.

"Mum, mum, I got to show you something."
"What's this doing here?"

They have expectations of what should be included in museum collections. And plastic halloween masks are not one of them.

The Hands-on Base is only open for the 'Discovery For All' sessions which are Sunday mornings and some afternoons in the school holidays.
Details on the Horniman Museum website, here.

Thanks to Miriam, Tom, Naomi and Roman for the photos and providing even more evidence that museums are not "boring".

Monday, 8 June 2015

William Morris Gallery

We went to the William Morris Gallery with the general election looming.
Should have clocked beforehand, this wasn't just about arts and crafts, but politics too.

William Morris was born in Walthamstow in the 19th century.
Not the Walthamstow we know today at the end of the Victoria Line,

...but a village in the Essex countryside, on the edge of Epping Forest.
We read that Morris was a social activist, becoming a socialist aged 50. But how did his anti-capitalist ideas fit into a life of arts and crafts?

William Morris, the eldest son, born into a wealthy family.

The kind of family who had their portraits painted.

Not necessarily the son they had in mind.
Marrying beneath him,

and rejecting the idea of becoming a clergyman to become an interior designer.

A designer of...


...ceramic tiles,,


...and textiles.

 Morris believed that beauty is a basic human need and created art for everyone.
Morris and Co built a brand that "only the most avant-garde bought from".
Bought by people with "rebellious taste".

That threw up a few questions. Today these quite mainstream designs don't strike us as rebellious and they're not necessarily that affordable. But Morris wasn't a fine artist, he applied his sense of design and values to household furnishings, bringing art into everyday life.

Morris hated the effects of industrialisation; slums, overcrowding, diseases and pollution.
His workshops were places where workers enjoyed clean air and rural surroundings.

Fabrics and wallpaper were block-printed, rather than use industrial rollers.

This was a time consuming process, making Morris & Co's products quite costly to buy.

William Morris set up shop in 1877 in Oxford Street and lived upstairs.
His major competitor was Libertys. That says something about his target market.

Choosing fabric today, little has changed.

The brand has endured and the William Morris Gallery has since embraced some higher tech 21st century printing techniques. On doors. I love good museum loos. 

Until our visit to the William Morris Gallery we hadn't associated these well-known designs with his political ideals, of art for all and a fight against the poor conditions of industrial manufacturing. This still rings true when you consider much of worldwide manufacturing today. Discussing the impending general election, we had heard plenty of politician talk about wages, taxes and the like, but what about the arts and cultural learning? It feels like the arts are being side-lined.
What would William Morris make of today's political parties? Art, manufacturing, marketing and workers conditions all came together under his socialist remit. I'm not saying he got it all right, but I'd like to see the arts given equal weight and consideration in the political debate, especially when it comes to education.   

The William Morris Gallery is open Wednesdays to Sundays.
A short walk from Walthamstow Central station. Details on their website, here. 

If you would like to see excellent advocacy on the value of arts learning, check out the Cultural Learning Alliance's website. Read their manifesto, here, for "The benefits for young people of participating in arts and culture". The CLA continues to ensure that cultural learning is part of political debate. Rightly so.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

London Transport Museum at Night

Checking out the 'Museums at Night' website,
we chose to go to the London Transport Museum.
It kind of fit, tunnel man and museumy woman's night out.

We've been before with our kids. Train spotting, bus spotting, collecting stamps as we went around, climbing on and off buses and trains, it's a kids dream and the museum is often very busy. It does cater brilliantly for kids.

We met in Covent Garden, the anorak was more train-spotting than London.
I couldn't help myself, I tweeted this photo.

And was a little over excited to see my tweet on their Tweetwall.

So what would a night at the London Transport Museum have in store for us grown ups?
It had a bar, it was an over 18 event. We had Pimms.

But more exciting than that, we got to play, be the kids, and notice things for ourselves. No earnest pointing things out to children.
We got to take #museumselfies (we're not very good at this yet),

...notice upholstery,

...and wooden floors. "Wood?"

"Actually look, the train is made of wood."

We noticed maps, the place where I grew up.

And got to chat to other people, who showed us their smart phones, 
"that's were the line used to run".

Spotting the difference between then and now.

We saw that wood, for so many health and safety reasons, was replaced by metal,

...and steam replaced by electricity.

More upholstery. This time I remember it.

We climbed on and off buses. "I don't remember them being quite so high. Perhaps I'm getting old." More evidence of yet a safer transport system, Routemasters didn't have doors, 

...but they did have conductors and women in yellow trouser suits.

We saw an exhibition.

Then it was our turn for a bit of drawing. Inspired by the museum's amazing collection of transport posters, we got to make our own. Replacing the kids artwork, they're now on our fridge.

Building a tunnel. "Come on, you do this for a living."

Being a bus driver.

Just like every other family visiting a  museum
(it is acknowledged in the museum literature!),
we went to the loo. And when it's quiet(er) you get to check out each cubicle.
Look what I found.

It wasn't fabric.

Don't wait until the next 'Museums at Night' in October to visit the London Transport Museum.
It's open every day. Not just for museum types and civil engineers.
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