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5 children’s books about famous artists

Great artists don’t just come from nowhere. Their childhood experiences shape who they become and their decision to make a career out of their craft. Some artists are born into wealthy families and some are born into poverty. Some are inspired by a particular culture, religion, or city. Some have a fantastic schooling experience and some are high-school dropouts. No one artist is the same and they all have an interesting story to tell! This post features 5 children’s books about famous artists. These publications are a fantastic way for young children to learn about these great minds and how they came to be! Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring by Michael Burgess and Josh Cochran (Enchanted Lion Books, 2020, 64 pages, $18.95. Ages 4-8 years) Keith Haring loved to draw! In fact, he drew everywhere he went. One of his favorite canvases was unused advertising billboards on…

An interview with artist Lorna Rose

This post features a video interview with artist Lorna Rose. She talks about her approach to creative learning, like the importance of flexibility, multiculturalism, and inclusivity in education.  We live in a world of great cultural, social, and political diversity. As the great art educator Maxine Greene said, the arts play an integral role in the growth of social cohesion by encouraging children to empathize with others from different background. This week I spent two days at the Lillian de Lissa Children’s Centre & Nursery in Birmingham (UK) working alongside their artist-in-residence, Lorna Rose. 90% of the children attending the nursery are from an ethnic minority, over half speak English as a second language. Of the 90 children in attendance, 28 languages are spoken! The nursery’s vision is for children to leave the center with a sense of curiosity about the world. Lorna Rose has been working as the artist-in-residence at the centre for over…

Make a cardboard construction

Recycled cardboard is one of my favourite materials for children’s art activities. I like it because it is: Easily available to everyoneCheap or free to get. This means that parents or teachers that don’t have a budget for materials can still use itEncourages the reuse of something that would otherwise be thrown away In this post, I share an art activity that can do be done using recycled cardboard. It is best suited to kids aged 2 to 10 years old but can be adapted to any age. The activity is perfect to do at home or in the classroom! Image credit: Paigen Muller Designing the art activity When I am putting together a children’s art activity, I always start off brainstorming the following three questions: What materials do I have available or what I can afford to buy?What are the interests of the kids I am working with?How have…

The ‘Atelier van Licht’ at the Centraal Museum, Utrecht

This post features a reflection on my visit to the Atelier van Licht at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, The Netherlands. The Atelier was being presented as part of the museum’s Nice’n’Light exhibition that ran from 17 October 2015 – 24 January 2016.  Above: Atelier van Licht at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Image credit: Atelier van Licht A creative space for children’s play and experimentation with materials Back in February 2016, I travelled to the Netherlands to meet with Annemieke Huisingh, the founder of the wonderful Atelier van Licht. I was interested in learning more about the Atelier’s approach to designing children’s material-based creative learning environments. At the time, the Atelier (which is another word used to describe an artist’s studio) was on display at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht as part of a contemporary art show that was exploring artist’s experimentation with light. The Atelier had been designed for children of all ages…

John Wolseley: Art in childhood series

John Wolseley, aged four. Image: the artist This post, featuring artist John Wolseley, is the fourth story in the ‘Art in Childhood series’ that looks at the experience of famous artists in childhood! The first blog post looked at Australian painter Ben Quilty who shared his story of growing up on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia.The second post zoomed in on Djerrkŋu Yunupiŋu who talked about growing up in East Arnhem in Australia.The third post featured Patricia Piccinini who shared a story of how her high school art teacher at a public school in Canberra shaped her lifelong love of fine art John Wolseley is a British-born, Australian-based artist whose paintings and tapestries have been inspired by nature and environmental systems. John has exhibited solo shows at the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Museum of Australia and holds an Honorary Doctorate in Science from Macquarie University. John Wolseley’s story…

Why art is important in children’s learning

Art can play an important part in children’s learning. This post shares five key reasons why. “Every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities.” Article 31, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Many education theorists have argued that art has a central role in children’s learning and development. For example, John Dewey – the founder of American progressive education – argued for the need to integrate art into people’s everyday experiences. Eillot Eisner then talked about the criticality of art in public school curriculum and Maxine Greene wrote about its significance in allowing people to imagine the world from multiple perspectives. All of these amazing thinkers built their arguments on the same issue: that art has been marginalised from school curriculum in place of syllabus focused on maths, English, science and technology. A recent example of this can…

4 organisations exploring materials in innovative ways

This is a follow up to my recent post on the role of materials in children’s learning through art. If you have not read this already, I recommend checking it out before reading on.  Here I present four different organisations – a university research centre, a design consultancy, a creative recycle centre and a children’s art studio – who are all exploring materiality in new and experimental ways. I selected these organisations as I am interested in thinking about how materials are being researched and considered in a collective way, among groups of people with diverse interests, skills and expertise. MIT Media Lab: Mediating Matter group (USA) I am a massive fan girl of the MIT Media Lab. For those of you who are not unfamiliar with this university research centre, it is an interdisciplinary lab ‘that encourages the unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas’ (MIT website, 2018).…

What is the role of materials in children’s learning through art?

This post discusses the possibilities of materials and material play in children’s learning through art. I draw on the theories of loose parts and new materialism to argue that materials play an active and participatory role in opening-up children’s divergent thinking and inquiry-led learning. Why do materials matter? Materials and material exploration have long been a part of artistic inquiry. Since Frobel’s development of the kindergarten in the late 1700’s, they have also held an important place in early childhood settings. In the 1970’s Simon Nicholson presented the theory of loose parts – the proposition that young children’s creative empowerment comes from the presence of open-ended materials that can be constructed, manipulated and transformed through self-directed play. It is fair to say that material content, including artworks and art materials, hold tremendous possibilities for facilitating children’s inquiry-led learning in new and divergent ways. I consider materials to be one of multiple…