Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Painting Morocco...

This art session was preceded by a philosophical dialogue... but I will post that tomorrow... and to just let you know, the children were being observed by 6 other adults all morning. They came from Unga Klara, which is a theatre.
 It is always interesting to see how children react when they are being observed ... and it makes no difference how "invisible" one tries to be as an adult, children are very aware of what is going on around them...
... except -  when they are fully engrossed in an activity... and I do believe that there were moments of this art session when ALL the adults in the room became invisible to the children... it was the children and the paint and their interaction with each other and the paint... nothing else seemed to exist. It was marvelous to watch - and hear.

Of course not all children will react in the same way... I was aware that for two of the children, chosen to be a part of this group today, it would be more of a challenge ... the whole idea of getting messy... and the whole idea of not having your own defined space. These were the two children that ended their painting experience first - and lucky for me, I have a shower in the atelier so I can help clean up the children and still be a part of the process (AND there were 6 other adults there too). ALSO, lucky for me, the children seemed to finish one by one in such a rhythm that I was able to shower each child before the next was ready to be showered. After their shower they could move into the adjacent room and sit and play with the bendaroos and other loose parts that can be found there...

One of the wonderful parts of having others observe is that there is so much more learning for me - listening to them describe their interactions with the children has given me ideas about how to proceed with this project... but I won't go into that right now - instead its time to share some photos of this Moroccan inspired art

An artwork inspired by one of the children saying that fairies come from Morocco... and as we have a child with parents from Morocco it seemed a perfect way to naturally allow us to learn more about the cultural roots of one of our children...

For those of you with issues with food being used in art... 
there was a minimal amount of food being used here... the ginger and ground cinnamon were past their best before date. I felt that the benefits of using this food far outweighed the negative impacts of playing with food when children in other parts of the world are starving... put it this way... there was less food being used here than in the making of play.dough!


  1. What a great idea! Looks like the kids had a blast...I'm sure they smelled all spicy at then end too! ;)



    1. Oh yes they smelled lovely afterwards - as did I!!

  2. interesting... why did you choose just those ingredienses... was it because the child who thought about Morocco told you, or where? It is great... how will you find the fairies in all this? Did you have a chance to follow some childrens special first contact with the "paint"/material? Could you see any simularities or differences amongst the children when it came to interacting? both with the paint, but also towards each other? where there some children who was standing a little bit on the side in the first place? How did they then enter into the play/paint?
    why were the people from Unga Klara there? how did you introduce them to the children and the purpose for them to be there, not interacting just observing... so many questions... so much inspiration... thank you Suzanne... /Åsa

    1. The spices were chosen as traditonal spices - by my research... the child in question will be going to Morocco for the first time later this year.. so hopefully the smells of this session will be familiar to her when she visit...

      The fairies are found in the fact that one of the children said that fairies come from Morocco... and we talked about this with the children... and the child that said it was so proud that we were creating based on her words/idea

      When they started mixing the white paint with the spices there was silence... the children were totally absorbed by what was going on... we said it was like fairy magic... they took it in turns to use the cinnamon sticks to stir with... but there was FULL focus on what was happening in that bucket. I chose a clear bucket so that they could see the whole mixing process.

      Yes one child was clearly on the side - as expected - and we included her in theis group to support her processes with getting messy and it has been working - and again it did today as she was very involved in covering her feet with paint and making footprints, but when the others started getting very messy with the paint she stood more to the side and watched with a smile on her face. Another child was VERY involved but she likes to have her own defined space - and for someone to come onto "her patch" can cause tears - which it did, but this session enabled her to see how we were all working together and that no-one had a defined space and she was able to recover much quicker from her tears than usual... she also particiapted much longer than I thought she would. The other 4 children were fully engrossed with the paint and once they discovered that they were free to explore they started painting each other - 2 of them were quite quick to say that they did not want for others to paint them - but 2 of them enjoyed painting each other and laughing lots - you can see that in one of the photos above...

      one child painted for a LONG time and was allowed to paint one of the observing adults hands - with the limit of not above the wrist - this was HARD, and was challenged many times... so I am thinking of doing a tape resist palm tree (as the children have said that fairies live in trees - and the trees in Morocco are very different - so we are connecting their fairy talk with learning about the world and where we all come from)... the idea is to paint the trunk using tape resist to mark the sections of the palm trunk - each section being its own shade of brown that the children will mix themselves - then they need to paint withinh their own area...can they keep to the limit? - it will be an interesting experiment...

      We entered into the atelier and sat round the paper on the floor with photos of Morocco spread everywhere... I then served them mint tea and we talked about what we will be doing and why...

      Unga Klara are observing the children to learn more about how children interact and play... I assume for their own acting development.
      We prepared the children yesterday that there would be adults coming to watch us talk and play... and the observers did interact too as they soon realised that it was impossible to be invisible to children who saught their attention all the time. The children were visibly excited and said many times how they liked the people from the theatre.

      Thanks for all the questions - hope I have answered them sufficiently...

    2. Thank you Suzanne for the long answer to all my questions... I think it is very very VERY important to always introduce new people to the children... especially when they are there in a purpose to observe. I have heard so many times teachers who sais... I like to make an objective observation so I will not say anything to the children what I do... This is so wrong, in my opinion... It is about ethics of the hole concept... the children has the right to know why... and you can never ever be objective in an observation... it is always subjective... sorry that I take up space here about this... fantastic work. I really love the flow in all this... and the children who has the right to interact by themselves and together. GREAT! /Åsa