Thursday, 23 February 2012

What Tate Kids do not know

In the creative industries these days, a great emphasis is laid on the efforts that museums and art organisations make to share their knowledge to all. Public benefit. Education. Access to the arts from an early age.

It is not only important, it is vital. In truth, it is essential for finances, too. Grants get someplace else if your organisation does not make these creative efforts. Private and institutional benefit is then endangered.

So, we have got the Tate Kids. The MoMA kids. Many kids. Play and learn, that is the philosophy behind any educational programme designed by a museum. Do kids really play? Do they enjoy? Do they learn something about art?, are questions which curators in the Education Departments around the globe ask themselves all the time.

We have already shown one great idea for kids which we had discovered recently, the Obliteration Room, created in connection with Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition “Look Now, See Forever”, at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, 2011. That looked like fun. At present, Tate Modern in London is doing something similar for the Kusama exhibition public.

We found though a great item for kids’ workshops right in the heart of Osaka, Japan. If you read the Dots Obsession, then you already know that The National Museum of Art, Osaka is also hosting a Yayoi Kusama exhibition.

So, check this out. Kiyomi Seki, assistant curator in the Education Department at NMAO Osaka made a real Kusama Kaleidoscope. Recalling tricks her teachers were using in science class to show students various geometrical patterns, she went to Tokyu Hands department store and bought plastic mirror sheets (or polycarbonate mirror sheets). They are about 30cm x 30 cm, can be easily cut in 9 pieces. Kiyomi used 6 pieces to make a Magic Box, which we decided to call the Kusama Kaleidoscope. She then fit the edges using strips of silver book binding tape.

On the inside, the box looks like a mirror room. On the outside, it is blue. The blue paper covering the box on the outside can be scratched. Kiyomi created Kusama shapes, such as tulips, or dots. She simply scratched the surface. Then she painted the scratched contours. At the end, she cut one little corner of the box, so that kids can have a look inside.

The light pervades the magic box through the scratches, creating inside a myriad of tulips, circles, squares, dots, anything that has been scratched on the outside. The colours filling this mirror space, are the ones applied by Kiyomi.

Very simple.

Now we have got to be honest and say that once we saw these boxes, we were so mesmerized that we went to check again the Gleaming Lights of the Souls mirror room at the Osaka exhibition. The real thing. Well, Kusama kaleidoscopes for kids are better.

This was a great idea Kiyomi had for the kids workshop this year in Osaka. And we are not the only ones loving her ideas. Masahiro Yasugi, curator of the Kusama exhibition, the cutest arts pro in the country, was so excited about the magic boxes, he could not stop looking inside. We would not be surprised if we saw him at the kids workshop next month !

If you are from Tate and are reading this, you might consider picking up the phone and getting in touch with Kiyomi Seki, a creative member of the staff at The National Museum of Art, Osaka. Jo Mazzotta also might just love the Magic Box idea.


( Later edit - 26.02.2012:

We did get a visit from Tate in London. Here, on the blog. :)
Sharna Jackson, editor at Tate Kids, tweeted to her followers:

These are nice Kusama-inspired kaleidoscopes - [Author didn't need to call me (Tate Kids) tho, gosh. Sassy.]

Thanks, Sharna. So so cool.)

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