Making interactive work for very young children can be very immersive, it is always invigorating and sometimes challenging.
The challenge can come from imagining how the young child may interact with the work, what may excite and invite them to adventure into a space, wondering if a space is too dark or too bright, too big or too small, has too little engagement or too much, too many polar bears or just enough. It’s a bit of a joyful goldilocks moment when you imagine some things just right.
The invigoration comes because as early years artists we love to play and we especially love to playfully imagine things that make little sense, though walking through a dragon’s giant mouth to a belly full of shadows, in a forest of strange cardboard trees makes perfect sense if you’re a toddler. Imagining through materials possible creations and figuring out potential solutions to fabrication problems is invigorating, as is thinking big, as if we were small in an enormous land, like the children we make work for.
Making work in collaboration with other artists and creatives can also be invigorating and immersive. As a visual artist it can sometimes be a lonesome action to make work. When in collaboration there are others to rely on for ideas, as a sounding board for conceptual practicalities, a helping hand in making work, emotional support and (without trying) making each other laugh. This support is invaluable to us as artists so we can in turn make work that supports the cultural life of the very young.
It is often said that it takes a community to raise a child and as artists we are honoured to play a supporting role in the nurturing, unfolding cultural life that children get to experience in Draíocht. As a bonus, we too as artists have been unfolded, raised and honoured by the nurturing support that the community of Draíocht have given us; the freedom to play and make and laugh. It took a large community to make this year’s Toddler Take Over and wow! what a gift and a pleasure to be a part of it all.
Anne and Órla
Órla Kelly is a visual artist, creative educationalist and arts manager with a specific practice that focuses on working with and for early years children, aiming to stimulate and support the naturally creative, poetic, philosophical and curious intelligences of the young child. She is the founder and director of Early Childhood Creativity, an initiative that promotes creative thinking and activity in early years children and their parents and supports artists and educationalists to develop specific and creative ways of working with early years children (0-6 years).
Anne Cradden graduated with BA in Fine Art from IADT in Dun Laoghaire in 2005. Her work in sculpture and drawing focuses on highlighting the physical places and spaces we inhabit and questions how we process and interpret these spaces. Over the past few years, she has become passionate about arts education, and has made working with children in a range of cultural and educational settings the heart of her practice. Most recently, she was artist in residence for Fingal County Council’s Room 13 project at Tyrellstown Educate Together National School, where she and the students shared a studio as well as their ideas and experiences. Alongside her own projects, she is currently a Creative Associate with the Arts Council’s Creative Schools program, working with a range of schools in north Dublin on developing their creative practices, policies, and networks.