Heather Fulton is Artistic Director of Frozen Charlotte Productions and a Starcatchers Associate Artist. As part of the Creative Kin project she is leading the sessions that we recently began in Moray. In this blog Heather breaks down why the shared creative experience between a child and the adult who cares for them is the most invaluable experience for every family.
Creative Kin in Moray – It’s here!
Creative Kin is a project that I’ve been wishing would come along for some time.
My background is in making theatre for children, usually informed by working with them in school or nursery settings.
I have always loved this because of the joy working with children gives me. I love going into a room to a mass of cute, wriggly little beings and coming out having worked with creative, thoughtful, inspirational individuals.
I am an Associate Artist with Starcatchers and as such, a part of the team that deliver Creative Skills sessions to people who work with early years children throughout the country. Through this I realised that the people that struggle most with feeling creative are not the children but the adults in their lives.
Children are innately creative; they have no issues in immersing themselves in fantastical make-believe worlds for hours at a time. From adults I hear much more: ‘I can’t draw’, ‘I can’t sing’, ‘I can’t dance’ and ‘I don’t like games’ – which feel more like statements of insecurity and doubt than that of truth.
The truth is that adults are also innately creative it’s just that the feeling of being creative has been ebbed away by formal education, working life, pressure and responsibility.
What impact is this adult negativity having on the children in their lives? It’s not that adults who don’t consider themselves to be creative will stop a child being creative, but think how a child’s creativity could grow if there is a confident adult who feels they can play, who wants to play and who actively encourages and supports expression and creativity.
Perhaps then that child’s creativity won’t be ebbed away by ‘real life’ and we end up with a country full of creative, compassionate thinkers.
This is why Creative Kin is such an important project. It gives families time, space and ideas. Time and space away from busy life – to hang out without the usual distractions, to have a great time and explore their own creativity.
Each week we explore new creative ideas. We start from a stimulus suggested by myself or the other artists with whom I work. Then it’s up to the group where it goes. The project will only be a success if the participants embrace the ideas and go somewhere with them
Children 1st, Starcatchers and I have created a light, safe, relaxed space in which the Moray group are more than happy to play.
During Session 1 we played games – I wanted the adults to remember what it felt like to be a child – playing games just for fun. I had thought I’d have to coerce them into this when in reality I have to gently break it to them that we had to stop.
We went on to set up a scavenger hunt for the children, hiding natural materials like sticks, pebbles, feathers and pinecones around the room. I was keen that the adults were a part of creating the first activity for the children, giving them ownership of the game. Unexpectedly it became as much fun for the adults – a memory game trying to recall where everything was hidden!
It was a joy to watch the children searching high and low to find the objects whilst the adults bit their lips trying not to give too much away. The children used the materials to form pictures on a white blanket that acted as a canvas. Then children came up with the idea of building a fire, which was genius as then we could all sit around drinking hot chocolate and ‘toasting’ marshmallows. We built shelters and sang some campfire songs and had a thoroughly enjoyable camping experience all in the comfort and warmth of a church hall in Elgin.
Why have been waiting for a project like this for some time?
One because it gives me the opportunity to do the work that I think is the most valuable and has the biggest impact on families – working with children and the adults in their lives. And two because it is in a part of the country that greatly needs this type of project.
Moray is a region in the North East of Scotland in which the local council oversaw 100% arts cuts. The feeling this has created in the region is that the local authority either does not value the impact the arts can make on people’s lives or does not value the people that live here enough to provide core access to the arts. Creative Kin is a project that rejects any notion that the arts are an add on or a luxury – it sees creativity as being transformative when it is something a whole family can experience together.
Having Creative Kin in Moray acknowledges that the families here have the right to access the arts and can gain as many benefits from exploring their creativity as families anywhere else the country.
Creative Kin is a 2-year pilot project funded by the Scottish Government Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention Project Fund and delivered in partnership with Children 1st, Scotland’s National Children’s Charity.