I’ve been asked to speak at the South London Gallery tonight at 6:30, on the overlapping subjects of loose parts, play and art. For a former Art History major turned playworker, this is right up my alley!
It’s part of Febrik‘s “Making Play” residency there. They created a shop (which sounds quite like our own Pop-Up Play Shop) in which they drew on the work of Tim Gill and others to create a “programme of activities used by artists and adults to prompt, research, intervene in and learn through play with children”.
Here’s one of the pictures I’ll be using to illustrate just how fluid the line between play and art can be – and to question whether there even is one.
This was created by a boy who had taken some time to navigate the space. Weeks of roaming around and picking things up only to put them down again were suddenly over, and this was the day his interest in large constructions began.
He unrolled a wide white paper banner on either side the entryway, then arranged other objects carefully upon them.
He gave no explanation or commentary as he did it, did not seek a connection with any of the other people in the shop who were watching curiously, but continued to layer objects so that some were displayed and some hidden beneath.
When he was done he turned away from the project entirely, moving onto a game with his little sister. He turned back only when a new family arrived and the youngest started to exclaim at his creation, shouting and jumping up with the balloons from it, bending down to peek beneath the foil. The boy watched her briefly, smiled, and then looked away.
It was, in its process for the creator and the experience it offered for others, to be as fascinating and opaque as anything I’d seen in a gallery.