09 October 2014

The Big Draw at Hackney Central Library


The first of my three Big Draw workshops for Hackney Libraries started with no less than 60 reception and year one children filing into the activity area in Hackney Central Library. 

That's a whole lot of little drawers, folks. I haven't seen that many 5 and 6-year olds in one room since I taught English in Japan, but at least we all speak the same language here.

Seats found for everyone, coats and high viz jackets removed, hands in the air, don't touch anything yet, listen to the teacher - that'd be me. (I wasn't on crowd control luckily, gentle reader, that was the job of the hard working teachers and their assistants. Masterly they were too. Respect!)

I wanted the children to experience the joy of drawing with charcoal, and asked everyone to listen to the sound it made as they crumbled and squeaked their sticks across a page. 

One boy told me it reminded him of the sound of a fox rustling in the bushes. 

Heh. A sound designer/foley artist in the making, I do believe. Pixar, you read it here first.

(Note to self on charcoal drawing and 5 - 6 year olds: wet wipes. In abundance.)

The next activity I had planned wasn't quite age appropriate - I asked the children to draw the feeling of being on a busy bus. Some tried, but most children went straight into drawing an actual bus, so I went with that. I'm guessing here but 5 and 6-year olds are probably pretty literal minded at this stage, or at least I would have needed to set that up differently. 

The game of 'musical pencils' went down a storm though. It's something I do in the studio myself when I'm getting all tight and stiff with line. As soon a song on iTunes changes, I pick up a new drawing instrument at random and keep working  with whatever I pick up until the next song and so on. Magic often happens that way for me.

For the kids, we handed out different drawing materials, and had a librarian - the very helpful James - stop and start a CD. They loved putting their hands up when the music stopped, and deciding on a new pen or marker.

Library users were not all equally enamoured alas with 'To market, to market' blasting away, but hey. 

Sixty little people had fun drawing, and they learned to listen to the sound of charcoal on a page. Mission accomplished.

Next 2 workshops - free, drop in and good for all ages - are at Dalston CLR James Library on Friday 17 October (more info here) and Stamford Hill Library on Tuesday 21 October, click here for more info. 

Maybe see you there - we'll be rustling pencils either way.

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