Early Years: Power of Play & Tide and Seek

Families • 2018 - 2019

Early Years Projects

Over two years Turner Contemporary worked in partnership with Thanet Early Years Project to develop and deliver two programmes for pre-school children and their families. The projects, delivered with artist practitioners, built on Turner Contemporary’s extensive experience in child leadership and aimed to reach out to new families who lived in areas of high disadvantage and would otherwise not have access to the arts. The work was piloted in 2018 with Power of Play and continued in Tide and Seek, culminating in an artist commission that involved and reflected local families in Thanet.

About Power of Play

Power of Play was an early years project exploring art and play with pre-school children and their families in Thanet. The workshops explored children’s leadership, culture and potential to inspire adults.

The project was a pilot Early Years project supported by a grant from the ACE Strategic Touring Programme in collaboration with New Art Exchange in Nottingham, and delivered in partnership with Thanet Early Years Project. It was developed alongside Akram Zaatari’s commission The Script which exhibited at the gallery in 2018, a piece inspired by videos of Muslim fathers and sons praying and playing. It also responded to research into the vital role of play in children’s mental, physical and social development, an activity that children use to learn about the world around them.

The workshops

Six workshops were lead by artist Judith Brocklehurst and supported by Tina Little and Taylor Walters, playworkers from Thanet Early Years Project. Judith’s open ended approach focussed on the use of cheap and everyday materials, such as cardboard, hosepipes, emergency blankets and gaffer tape. Each session had a different theme, and led by the children, participants would create their own spaces using the materials provided. The workshops enabled the families to explore their environment in a sensory, imaginative and innovative way.

Click here to download the Power of Play Project Report.

About Tide and Seek:

Building on the work in Power of Play, artists Bethan Peters and Stacie Lee Bennett-Worth were commissioned to create an artwork with and inspired by local families for the 2019 exhibition Seaside Photographed.

Over spring 2019, the artists worked with 10 families over  workshops to develop the commission. The final commission included a film High Tide | Low Tide, projected onto the floor. The film – which is part home movie, part cine-choreography – traces tender moments of fun, laughter and love as families play, dance and embrace on Margate’s beach. The commission also included a movement game, in the form of a vinyl floor map in one of the galleries, inspired by the coastlines of Thanet. It used meeting points and action symbols to encourage children to explore the gallery space in a curious way.

The workshops

Throughout the workshops, the artists and families explored the seaside through play, movement and digital media. Participants were guided to move in response to the coastal environment, often inspired by things like the beach, seagulls and photographs. The workshops built on the model of child leadership in the pilot.

The project enabled us to continue working in partnership with Thanet Early Years Project, and a strong focus of the project was to reduce barriers and reach out to families who wouldn’t usually attend the gallery or take part in these workshops. 6 out of 10 families who participated in the project hadn’t visited the gallery before. Recruitment had a targeted approach with outreach, taster sessions and flyers at local groups, and the language used to describe the workshops was changed to be more open and accessible.

Tide and Seek evaluation film

Early Years Project gallery