Session Five: The Children’s First Visit To dlr LexIcon

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This is the first time that the children were to visit The Project Room in dlr LexIcon where I am the Artist at Work. This is a type of residency programme that supports my collaborative practice with early years children aged 6 years and under. Much of the programme centres around workshops but throughout the Artist At Work programme I will use the Project Room as my studio and invite the public in to see what actually happens in the artist’s studio. This is where the children worked today.

dlr lexIcon is the new central library and cultural centre and is three days old today. The children have been watching its construction whether passing it on their way to school or from the apartments next door where some of the children live. From the outside it looks like a ship coming into the harbor and the children were eager to see the inside. The children’s area has possibly the best views in the building.

My studio space in The Project room was set up with a mixture of finished pieces, pieces mid construction and others in the early stages of development and a few things that had sparked an interest. I had a few specific ideas of what I would like them to do with some of the materials I had in the space, huge rolls of paper and 600 milk containers. On arrival the children got down to work quickly, by work I mean asking questions of what they could see in front of them. My work looks at spaces and architectural structures associated with places of worship and places where people come together to be part of a community. We talked a lot about the spaces and places we like to be in and how and what we could build ourselves. As we discussed this I also wanted the children to be able to use their bodies to give them a sense of scale and 3D. We drew large circles and squares and built upwards. As the forms grew so too did the children ideas and they wanted to build an igloo shape but I preferred to build a dome, wanting create something less specific in order to develop their ideas and potentially create a real space for the children.
As I would be doing the construction work, (a very hot glue gun would be required) I asked the children to draw detailed plans for what they wanted me to build. I deliberately used a very long roll of black paper as working together on one piece would enable them to more aware of the ideas of everyone else and start to share and swop ideas. Using black paper and white chalk offers a very immediate and clear image often easier to read than working on white paper. The construction details were quickly sidelined for the ‘family’ who was to live inside their build. Not only do the children like to draw but they constantly want to draw images of their families, a theme present in each session. As this is a collaborative process I will often use my observations to assist directing the next session. As yet we are still in the early stages of our work together I am reluctant to make the family a dominant theme and need to explore deeper to unravel other things that the children are passionate about.
After a busy morning we take the children on a tour of dlr LexIcon. As we head into the children’s area the excitement and noise levels of the children are very high. Joanna asks them to be raindrops and a beautiful click clicking sound fills the space and also calms and focuses the children. I have been observing and keen to learn more about how Joanna works with the children, how she engages them and how they respond to her as I feel this would enhance my own practice.

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