It’s children’s art week.
You’ve got to give up your home to glitter and glue. Or you’ve got to run around art galleries while parents in itchy looking knitwear wielding sugar-free rice cakes judge your ‘bum bum willy’ shouting Haribo munching children. Or you’ve got to pretend you love junk models.
It’s going to be awful.
But I say listen up fraught and frazzled parents, art and kids can be a beautiful thing. A fun thing. A cheap thing. Even a faff free thing. Really .
Here are some ideas of how to get the kids involved based on things to do in my part of the world, Southampton East. Don’t live near me? Use these suggestions for inspiration. Do live near me? Maybe see you at one of the activities below.
+ Avoid getting pom poms and googly eyes in your dinner by taking the art activities to places geared up for the occasion. There are two fabulous kid-friendly craft cafes near us: Tea Cups and Tutus and The Songbird Creative Café. You drink tea. The kids make stuff. You all eat cake or ice cream afterwards. Shamazing.
+ No pennies for tea and cake? Check out what’s on at your local library. They run lots of activities to get kids involved in the arts, particularly storytelling, poetry, and music.
+ Where library funding has been cut, some local communities have stepped in to fill the gap. Check out the wondrous community initiative that is the Cobbett Road Hub and Library. Make the most of their kids’ storytimes, affordable drama classes, and making and doing activities.
+ Local Theatre can be found in the most unexpected of places. Which is a nice lead into promoting local arts provider Unexpected Places. They provide “affordable and accessible drama classes with the purpose of encouraging children, teenagers, and adults to benefit from involvement in the arts.”
+ Similarly, I lately stumbled upon an amazing looking youth theatre run from a small church hall near us – Rising Star Productions at Pear Tree. A not for profit youth theatre proving you don’t need to be posh to perform, daaaaarling.
+ If you are happy in the Church environment, head over to one of their messy play sessions. As well as running messy church, Sholing’s St Mary’s Church, in partnership with Oasis Mayfield Academy, supports Monty’s Community Hub. Monty’s Hub runs many activities including arts and craft groups.
+ Still feel your children are too feral to be trusted in any of these indoor activities? Then get outside! There is oodles of inspiration in the ancient woodlands, greenways and open spaces that connect the housing estates. You might even stumble upon the odd sculpture as part of the Shorburs’ sculpture trail. The sculpture trail is a little overgrown and neglected but for some reason, I like it all the more for that.
+ Why do I like that slightly neglected urban feel to art? I don’t know, but that can lead on to all sorts of conversations with the kids as to what is art in the first place. Does graffiti count? What about ancient graffiti such as you can find at Netley Abbey? What of junk models? God. Junk models. I know my views, but what do the kids think?
+ We are lucky enough to live near Southampton water and two fabulous rivers – the Itchen and the Hamble. Anyone can make something beautiful out of the things you find by the water, even if it’s just a collection of seashells presented in an old jar. If you still feel lacking in ideas check out this great national site Land Art For Kids.
+ Your favourite local spaces have more arts activities going on than you might think. Royal Victoria Country Park is hosting a family friendly music festival in June. In the summer Bursledon Brickworks is hosting ‘Artists in August’, exhibiting recent work by Southampton University Art graduates.
+ See what inspirational locals you can find on social media and share their work with the kids. On twitter I follow local author Philip Hoare (@PhilipWhale), I’ve found a truly inspirational blog by local artist Martin Davey , and Instagram is awash with amazing amateur photographers showcasing all aspects of where you live.
+ Don’t be afraid to get involved in conversations around the arts and share these with your kids. Check out Dangerous Ideas Southampton for events near you that encourage these conversations, including the Common Ground Picnic on the 14th July. Maybe a Culture City event will make it across to this side of the water soon.
And there you have it. Loads to do without having to step near a junk model.
Get out there. Have fun. Get your bum-bum-willy shouting, haribo munching kids fully involved with the great arts activities right on your doorstep.
No glitter required.