1. It’s all about play
Whether we are playing courtship games, jumping in muddy puddles Peppa style or immersing ourselves in video games; playing is part of our daily lives and the latest exhibition at the Wellcome Collection celebrates all forms of play. Shamita Sharmacharja, co-curator of the exhibition says “In a risk averse society where work is privileged over play, and children have little time or space for free unstructured play, we look at what it means to play well, it’s impact on childhood and society at large”. So get your kids and come to explore, learn and get nostalgic at this exhibition.
2. There’s an interactive art installation
Adam James is a British Artist with an interest in non verbal play and he has created a colourful installation made up of soft (but rather heavy) blocks that can be moved around, climbed on, knocked over or used to create collaborative storytelling and narratives. They are pastel in colour and their curved shapes could take on any form you like (with a bit of imagination). The pink chocolate looking pretzel was our favourite and we really enjoyed this part of the exhibition, returning again and again for another tumble, slide and bump. There will be facilitated games within the installation (created alongside Adam James) taking part throughout the run of the exhibition that small groups can enjoy. Beats soft play any day!
3. Toys and games
From the latest Fortnight inspired dancing obsession with flossing (harder than it looks), playground rhymes and of course toys. This exhibition explores the changing nature of play and the paraphernalia that accompanies it. There are loads of different games and toys dotted around the exhibition which you can reminisce over, giggle in delight at the altered dolls and play together. Some toys explore diversity through their design and you can find altered dolls which represent disabilities and mental health. There are video games created by kids for kids and brief history of Lego. With the festive season around the corner, a visit to this exhibition may make you re-evaluate some of your gift ideas for this year.
4. Adventure Playgrounds
Ok so there is no adventure playground within the exhibition. But there is a brief history of how adventure playgrounds were brought to the UK by Lady Allen of Hurtwood who was inspired by junk playgrounds in Copenhagen where kids had access to raw materials and dangerous tools. “Better a broken bone than a broken spirit” said Lady Allen. And we agree. Made us sad to think adventure playgrounds are under threat from a lack of funding and large housing developers looking to transform the spaces into housing. We spend a lot of our time in the local adventure playgrounds making fires, building dens, climbing, gardening, swinging and cooking mud pies.
5. Design is lush
The whole environment of the exhibition is a soft hued haven “It’s not an exhibition necessarily aimed at children, though we think children will get a lot out of it because it shows their experience and it is an environment that takes them into account,” says Sargent, the senior curator. And as if on cue this young Londoner finds a giant doorway and walks under it – delighted to have found a shortcut (and to manage to escape from under my watchful eye) and highlighting his experience of this exhibition. It’s a beautiful space and we will be back a good few times before it ends. Hope to see you there.
Play Well is free and on at the Wellcome Collection until 8 March 2020.