Dear Zoo


Quite often I like to use a picture book as inspiration for my Toddlers sessions- this works well with the older preschoolers- especially if they recognise their favourite story (although inevitably it can be a little harder to engage the wee babies with these sessions!) Reading aloud can really bring the group together in preparation for the art activity and really is a practice I should use more often (even for non-story related sessions). Popular books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Elmer and Fox in Socks are all great for visual inspiration but even simple board books, flap books and pop-ups can be a good starting point. Dear Zoo is now a classic in British culture and the group love taking turns in guessing what animal lies behind each cage, basket or hutch! The more absurd the pet the funnier they find it! So the challenge was to think of even sillier options the zoo could have sent. I had made pre-printed ‘animal boxes’ and childre were invited to draw a pet inside. Adults were encouraged to talk through their child’s choice and discuss why it was so silly. There was ‘luggage labels’ on front of the doors to write their reasons!



Weave Parkhead!


It was great to see the work of Weave Parkhead! accumulated in a local gallery, providing an accessible art experience to the community who were so integral to the project. Events like these have sadly been almost non-existent in the Parkhead area so it was such a pleasure to visit this right on my doorstep on a lazy Saturday morning! No struggle to get public transport, find a babysitter or make a daytrip of it. I could just pop in, enjoy a wee chat and a coffee, and browse the artwork. Although most of the people I met that morning were linked to the project in some way I’m hopeful that over the week they had some new visitors. It is our aim that the Parkhead Residency will be able to promote and encourage similar events in the area- opening a door to artworld and revealing its many opportunities.

For more info on Weave Parkhead!  here is a link to the project’s website!

Parkhead Toddlers- Printmaking



Since Spring 2015 I’ve been helping run creative, messy, playful art sessions for the Toddler group based in Parkhead Nazarene. It’s one of the cornerstones of the Residency programme-each session introducing the babies and toddlers of Parkhead to new (sometimes first!) artistic experiences. I have always loved working with this age group but having my own son at the same stage has definitely provided me with a deeper (perhaps more realistic!) perspective of engaging with these little tots. It really can be a challenge to think of an activity which very small babies can participate in as well as older pre-schoolers. I suppose the most successful of my sessions would now focus on providing ‘experiences’ versus ‘activities’ for the children and their families/carers. My ‘Printmaking for Toddlers’ session probably best encapsulates this approach.

Is there anything more exciting to a toddler as a large expanse of clean white paper and the instruction to ‘get messy’?! Rather than little individual pieces I find the novelty and ‘team’ aspect of a large roll of lining paper so much more inspiring to little ones- they have not yet entered that stage of being precious in their ownership (and to be honest parents are mostly happy they don’t need to negotiate home a soggy A4 painting!) A large canvas is usually a new experience (often rarely available at home) so this allows for a bit more freedom and the introduction for new ‘techniques’. Printmaking with this age group makes so much sense as they often have not yet developed the grip and dexterity to hold paintbrushes or even crayons yet. I get together recognisable toys, household items, stationary and (apart from being fun!) little hand are able to reach out and grab easily. With very little help they are able to stamp, roll, slide, scrub, bash away to their hearts content into the paint and paper! Once you have tried this once you will see the printmaking potential in every toy or bathroom accessory! My particular favourite is the sea urchin-like stamp you can make with a shower puff! The kids however, love to drive toy cars through the ink and across the paper, stamp Duplo blocks or- lets face the inevitable- their hands!

 …Somehow we also acquired the church’s doorstop…