How can we give a voice to children’s imaginations? A family arts workshop at Tate Modern

maddy-cullen By Maddy Cullen, Events Associate

To celebrate The EY Exhibition: Wifredo Lam, we held two workshops at Tate Modern for our EY people, clients and their families. The workshops, combined, allowed us to entertain and inspire 14 families on a cold winter’s Sunday afternoon.

Artist, Daniel Wallis, welcomed the families on arrival and asked them to choose their work station or “studio” for the day. After refreshments and (lots of) cookies, the families were equipped with an array of colouring pens, pencils, stencils, magazines and newspapers ready for warm up task. He deconstructed the Wifredo Lam style of Cubism and Surrealism into an activity which the children could understand and participate in, in order to make their own piece of art in a similar style. Daniel gave them the simple task of cutting pictures out of the newspapers and magazines and sticking them on another piece of paper to create a collage. He instructed them to think about where they were placing different colours and shapes. Once complete, Daniel would ask about the arrangement they had chosen. The families proudly presented their work to the rest of the workshop and spoke about what drew them to particular pictures and why they linked certain pictures and shapes together e.g. because of “the bright colours” or “swirling shapes”.

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Families then walked through the exhibition and while receiving some background information about Wifredo Lam’s work from Daniel, they were asked to choose a few shapes from the paintings and reproduce them on their clipboards. Children and families explored the exhibition and worked individually, in pairs or in groups, depending on what suited them, in order to find their favourite shapes.

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Then it was back down to the studio to create more collages of their own. Using the shapes they had sketched, Daniel asked the families to incorporate them into their work, whether it be through the outline of a newspaper clipping, an expression on someone’s face in a magazine or simply through drawing new pictures themselves. The creativity in the room was released and demonstrated in the form of paper clippings, stickers and glue swirling around the room.

Collaborative masterpieces were shared and displayed once again for all artists to admire and ask questions. Daniel asks “what emotions do you feel when you look at this shape?” and “are there any hidden shapes within the artwork?” Passionate arms flew into the air to answer each question, revealing answers such as “this shape is angry” and “there is a hidden swirl in this shape”.

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The focus on the workshop was to demonstrate that art has no boundaries, no restrictions and you can find meaning and emotion in everything. Additional focus was placed on team work, sharing ideas and giving a voice to children’s imaginations. Children engagement was extremely impressive with creativity and ideas being shared throughout the room right up until the end.

With such lovely feedback from the families who took part  – “the freedom for my children to be creative is an excellent way of learning”, “the workshop was excellent”, “great way to introduce children to art”, “we would love to go again” – roll on family workshops 2017!

This family workshop was organised by Tate and offered to EY as a benefit of The EY Tate Arts Partnership. Access to Tate exhibitions is free for employees.


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