Since August I’ve been Lead Artist at Expecting Something in Lochgelly, exploring creative play with a brilliant group of parents and babies. I always look forward to each session and seeing how the babies will react to the activities I’ve planned, and each week brings new discoveries for me as an artist, and also for the group about what creative activities they can enjoy and create together with their babies.
One of the great things about having along running group is being able to be responsive to the interests of the participants. As an early years artist you can often find yourself running short term or one off sessions and performances, without much opportunity to really get to know the families who are taking part. With Expecting Something I’ve been guided by the group, and I love the creative challenge of taking their ideas and suggestions and creating an experience that is really tailored to them. Recently we had an obstacle course session with David Banks, a movement and community arts specialist with a background in parkour, which our active babies loved! We had noticed how lots of the children who were walking loved to climb and we transformed the space with all sorts of obstacles to encourage creative movement, with plenty of room for our active toddlers to practice their jumping and a cosy space for the smaller babies to try rolling, sitting up and reaching to grab different textured balls.
Some of my favourite sessions have been ones that have come directly from the the ideas of the group. In October we had a Halloween party, everyone was keen to bring their little ones in costume and decorate some pumpkins, and it was such a joyful session. Everyone painted pumpkins to take home with glow in the dark paint and googly eyes, and had great fun exploring the weird and wonderful textures of pumpkins, melons and chia seeds. It’s important to me that we do activities at Expecting Something that encourage creative play to continue at home, enabling parents to feel more confident in their own ability to play with their baby and also to learn more about the kinds of play their little one enjoys most.
I love seeing the collaboration between parents and babies when creating, whether that’s getting messy painting pumpkins together, choosing what materials to put on their sensory texture boards, or making puppets of their favourite animals to explorer shadow puppetry.
The love and care that each parent puts into the activities is beautiful to see. Recently we had a bird themed session, and each parent made a set of fabric wings for their little one to wear. Seeing everyone choose their child’s favourite colours and textures as they crafted the wings was really special, and the support the group shows each other when undertaking creative tasks creates a really warm and welcoming atmosphere. This is especially important for when we have new families joining the group who may feel nervous being there for the first time. The participants who have been coming for a long time are a great source of positive energy, and their confidence to try new things is infectious.
Parents of young children have a lot to think about and manage, and I think carving out space where they can relax, play, and connect creatively with their baby and other parents is vital. Expecting Something focuses on the joy of connection and self-expression through creativity in a group that offers a safe, supportive space to undertake creative challenges together.