I notice a general reluctance in people to take boys to art galleries. Perhaps people are worried it might end up a bit like this. (Watch the video clip by clicking the link)
Perhaps they are safer in some kind of organised sporting activity?
The boys in Eva Rothchild’s art work proceed to totally dismantle the sculptures in the gallery, revelling in the joys of play and of destruction. In this revelatory film, Rothschild investigates the particularly physical interaction boys have with the material world and with making things, while drawing attention to how sculpture in modern and contemporary art has been dominated by men.
I often take my boys to galleries, and yes they sometimes moan and groan, but by making the experience interesting and engaging for them they generally end up enjoying themselves.
They definitely need to be doing something and the more physical the activity the better. Changing the activity avery 20 minutes definitely helps – I definitely find their attention span is limited.
Artist Ania Bas took up my offer to work with a group of 11 boys of mixed ages and some of their mothers for a day in Tate Britain.
We journeyed to the gallery together. Outside the usual school structures and behaviour codes they were definitely a little more excitable than usual.
Warming Up: Bodies
Warming Up: Minds
To get us looking and thinking we described things we saw to a partner who drew from our description.
We looked and then drew with our eyes closed.
Rule of Thirds
We know boys love their gadgets and technology so Ania taught them about the rule of thirds so they could use phone’s and iPads to take better pictures in the gallery.
Using objects we placed them in different positions on a paper to see which were most eye-catching.
The next activity was to make captions for paintings, imagining they were stills from a film. We played a game of Chinese Whispers with some caption ideas to get us thinking.
We then set to work making our own captions
We used the rule of thirds to take pictures of ourselves in front of the work with our caption.
Pull, Pull, Pull!
Will you marry me?
I hope you get better soon
Plunging in, the warm and sunny day.
The lonely bear in the icy, sunny mountain.
We then turned to cinematography. In groups of three we took on the role of a character in a painting, interviewed the character and filmed.
The resulting films reveal so much knowledge I never knew those boys had, as they went on a journey where their interests took them. It didn’t matter that the Historical details weren’t quite right, or the Geography a little skewed. The skills they were applying were varied and complex.
Conveyor belt drawing
We then tried a collaborative drawing exercise. Choosing an object to draw using oil pastels we repeated the motif over and over again as we passed sheets of black paper along the conveyor belt. We adjusted the scale of the object each time and positioned it in relation to the other objects already on the page. We had to relinquish ownership of our work, work quickly and as a team. The activity created energy at the end of a long day and was a real team effort.
Performing an art work
Finally – the high point, everyone’s favourite. Boys had to ‘perform’ an art work using their bodies as a team, then film the resulting interpretation. Everything a boy could ask for. Physicality, technology, humour.
Watch the clips below to see how much fun we had.
We had a great day – I think one of the best I’ve had in a gallery with my children.
If you’d like to organise a similar day with friends in a London gallery, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss organising this for you.
Artist Ania Bas
It was great to try things out with this group of boys and mums. What great energy, work, exciting approaches, open minded parents! I was really pleased with what the group came up with. Loved the performances, subtitles to the paintings as well as the ‘conveyor belt’ style drawings! I thought our group out of other groups I observed at Tate yesterday had most fun! Visitor assistants were definitely watching us because of what we were coming up with!
Such a broad, fun packed experience. My boys had a fantastic time and definitely their idea of what art entails has been broadened exponentially! Needless to say, I loved being able to share it with them.