Derry’s Centre for Contemporary Arts, next door to the Playhouse in Artillery Street, has been a hive of activity in recent months as local children stream in and out and take part in a unique and groundbreaking project.
The ‘Culture Kids’ initiative has been working with 6-8 year olds from a number of local primary schools including the Fountain Primary School and children from the Long Tower, in a number of workshops designed to let them become ‘empowered producers of design and knowledge.’ Co-ordinator Sara Greavu (picttured right) says local children and their parents have really taken the project to heart.
“It’s been really enjoyable so far and we’ve been working with some amazing artists,” says Sara.
“One of the first thing we did was housebuilding for children using a system called ‘Gridbeam’ which is a really versatile use of material. It’s a really modular system which actually allows children to safely build up a structure and we had kids here who were building all sorts of things and they were able to take those things away with them. It was about giving them this feeling that they could produce something for themselves rather than just looking through a toy catalogue and if we look at the way things are going that’s something we’re seeing people return to now in these difficult economic times. More people than ever are turning to crafts and making things for themselves.”
The Gridbeam workshops were just one component of the Culture Kids initiative. On Friday and Saturday, children took part in a foraging workshop on Derry’s Walls with horticulture expert Gareth Austin where they discovered the benefits of searching and discovering edible items from the local landscape. The final part of the project will see the children take part in a publishing exercise where they’ll again, produce something from scratch, themselves.
“It’s a project we’ve been really excited about and we’ve loved working with Andrea Francke, the lead artist on all this. We definitely consider it as just a pilot which we’ve been able to carry out thanks to the Big Lottery Fund and we’re hoping to do more of this in the future”, added Sara.