Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Hackney Street Art Trail - COMPETITION now on!

Hackney is a treasure trove of #streetart masterpieces. From Shoreditch to Hackney Wick, London Fields to Clapton, the borough is awash with #artskicking gems.

My kiddos love this one by French artist Zabou off Broadway Market

For the next 3 weeks, I'm offering you the chance to win your very own StreetArt Beginners Kit. It's got everything you need to beautifully graffiti an imaginary city, while sitting at your table! Includes 20 city wall images to decorate, 2 differently style lettering sheets, 4 felt pens, and instructions.

All you have to do is this...
  1. Take the kids* on a #streetart treasure hunt
  2. Find and photograph your favourite #streetart
  3. Pop your best pics on social media (Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest) using the #KickUpTheArts hashtag  
*your own, or someone else's - their parents will love you for it!

Closing date: March 17 (St. Patrick's Day)

May the best pic win!

You'll find plenty of inspiration HERE to get you started. In the meantime, I'll leave you to ponder this quote by the mysterious mister Banksy...

Now get your coats on and go kick some #arts ;)

The Arts Crusader ⚡️

As ever... I'd love to hear your stories and suggestions, feel free to comment, to follow the Arts Crusade on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and to give yourself a #KickUpTheArts

Friday, 12 February 2016

The most #ArtsKicking list of free stuff to do this half term. Boom!

It's all about #halfterm this week Crusaders and I'm giving you a daily #KickUpTheArts. One simple suggestion each day for STAYing local to Hackney, GOing further afield and DOing #artyfarty stuff with the kids you love at home.

All the activities are FREE unless otherwise stated. Yes really!

For the DO suggestions, if you haven't got paints, pens and papers on hand, pop into your local Tiger Store (Islington & Westfield) or Poundshop (Kingsland Road, Narrowway, Hoxton Market...) to stock up on some supplies. A tenner will see you through for the whole week if you do some advance planning.

This list is not just for parents - I'm hoping my sisters find it useful when I hand over my kids for "aunty time"... Please pass it on, share on FaceBook / Twitter / WherEver and let your mates know that I'll be giving all my fans n followers a right good #KickUpTheArts this #halfterm.

Scroll on down for the longest blogpost ever or click the dates to jump to the relevant day. Happy half term y'all! ⚡️

Saturday, February 13
Sunday, February 14 - Valentine's Day
Monday, February 15
Tuesday, February 16
Wednesday, February 17
Thursday, February 18
Friday, February 19
Saturday, February 20
Sunday, February 21

Saturday, Feb 13

STAY: It's BookSwap Day at the Geffrye Museum. Get the kids to do a clearout and head on down for some swappage. Also at the Discover Story Centre in Stratford, but I reckon that one's gonna be bizzzeeeeee...

Alternatively, engage in some imaginative fun at The Institute of Imagination's very first festival on all this weekend at Chat's Palace.

GO: It's Saturday, transport'll be a nightmare! There's SO much do do locally today, I recommend staying right here in #Hackney. Innit.

DO:Make windmills. Or do it with others at The Old Church in Stoke Newington from 2-4pm today.


Sunday, February 14 - Valentine's Day!

STAY: Swing by Sutton House for a dose of local culture and there's a musical performance at 3pm. One does not need to be posh to participate.

GO: God's Own Junkyard. I cannot think of a better place to celebrate V Day. Read about our visit here.

DO: Loo Roll Heart Prints. Aw!


Monday, February 15

STAY:Dalston's Eastern Curve Garden has free artist led activities in the greenhouse every afternoon this week. Drop in, donations optional.

GO:"Drawing on Childhood" at The Foundling Museum near Russell Square is truly lovely.This exhibition brings together the work of major illustrators from the eighteenth century to the present day, who have created powerful images of characters in fiction who are orphaned, adopted, fostered or found. It's also inspired in no small part by Hackney resident Lemn Sissay, poet, University Chancellor and champion of kids in care.

DO: Get out the paints and let the kids freestyle.


Tuesday, Feb 16

STAY: Take a stroll around your neighbourhood and try to find as many #streetart works as you can. It's like a #streeart museum round here! Post a pic with the hashtag #KickUpTheArts and be in with a chance to win your very own beginners #streetart kit. Inspiration and more details here.

GO: One of Hackney finest streetartist's, Zabou, has spent this week painting a mural at the Saatchi Gallery. It's now on display in the gift shop and there are limited edition signed prints on sale. Champagne Life is a brilliant exhibition for kids too. And there are "Create Your Own Creature" workshops today aswell. AND it's all FREEEEEE!

DO: Make oil pastel drawings. With oil pastels, oil and cottonbuds. They're lovely.


Wednesday, February 17

STAY: Older kids (14+) can try filmmaking at Hoxton Hall, or book in for the 2 day circus workshop for ages 7+, starting tomorrow.

GO:Go try something at the Southbank Centre. There is LOADS of stuff going on as part of their annual Imagine Children's Festival. While you're there, you might like to do this costume making workshop at The National Theatre (£5 for adults, £3 per child)

DO: Get a packet of blow pens for £3 from your nearest Tiger Store and prepare to be blown away by the craic you will have making art. Brillexcellent.


Thursday, February 18

STAY:It's play-doh fun all week (for all ages) at The V & A Museum of Childhood. Sessions from 10.15. BOOK IN ADVANCE! £5 per child for the workshops, museum entry is free.

GO: There's half term fun (on Wednesday too) and ace under 5s play area at the Ragged School Museum from 11-5pm. You could even walk along the canal (towards Mile End Park) if the weather's nice.

DO: Make your own playdoh. We did. It was ace.


Friday, February 19

STAY:If you're not already at the Circus Workshop, there's Wildlife Arts and Crafts at Victoria Park today. Drop in, no need to book.

GO: Do you dare to venture west to Da Vinci at The Science Museum? It's £10 for adults / £8 concessions but there's also SO much to do in the museum itself, which is FREE. I am reliably informed that if you're bringing under 5s you should also bring a change of clothes...

Or cross the river to Greenwich to catch the end of Rainbow Week at the National Maritime Museum. #LGBT family activities and lots about Samuel Pepys here at the moment too, great for Year 1/2 kids to get a head start on their Great Fire of London learning. Pushy, me?? ;)

DO: Crayon Marker Resist Anyone remember this? Easy peasy magic fun.


Saturday, February 20

STAY: Head to the St. Joseph's Hospice giant Jumble Sale (10 - 1pm) and pick up stuff to get all creative with. If you have not been to one of these, you have not really lived. It's bargain central and some real Hackney characters abound!

GO: Get dressed up for an Alice In Wonderland adventure at the British Museum. The exhibition itself is wonderful and it's free too.

DO: Give the kids a go on the computer / your phone (if they're anything like mine they will LOVE you for this) and let them watch this American Dad, Rob, and his kids who have some ace videos or set them loose at Tate Kids Create, another brilliexcellent site where kids can learn about artists, techniques and other fun stuff.

There's a brilliant list of youtube channels here that is worth saving if your kids love the internet (includes online safety tips ;) )


Sunday, February 21

Even God did nothing on this day ;)

Well done to you if you manage to give the kids you love a #KickUpTheArts this holiday. It's bloomin' tough. But it is so important that their creativity is nurtured.

Have a good one.

The Arts Crusader⚡️

P.S. I'd love to hear your stories and suggestions, feel free to comment, to follow the Arts Crusade on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and to give yourself a #KickUpTheArts

P.P.S. I love this quote, so I'm just leaving it here. (image via The Artful Parent)

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The wonderful wonders of Walthamstow...

This week's #KickUpTheArts was inspired by my new friend Lady Chingford, who rules her domain in Jimmy Choos. This brilliexcellent blogger led us to Walthamstow and the wonderful worlds of Bob & Roberta Smith, William Morris and Chris Bracey - #ArtsCrusaders extraordinaire.

The William Morris Gallery is a real gem - a proper child-friendly gallery without impinging on grown-ups' enjoyment of the works on display. A fifteen-minute hilly walk (or 5 minute bus ride) from Walthamstow Central station, it's been hosting Bob & Roberta Smith's exhibition, "Art is Your Human Right" and I'm so glad we caught it before it closed last weekend.

Enraged by the Government’s downgrading of art in schools, the artist Patrick Brill (aka Bob & Roberta Smith) decided to fight back. This exhibition follows his campaigns; from his furious painting, Letter to Michael Gove, to the launch of the Art Party and his attempt to be elected to parliament in 2015.

The exhibition was great for the Girlchild, she got to send a postcard to London's future Mayor, stand on a soapbox, hold a picket and let off some steam.

For me, I loved seeing the realisation dawn for her that yes, art IS important and YES, she and her friends should be doing more of it in school. It's not just her #dementedmum banging on about it, real people do it too!

It simply couldn't have been a more apt exhibition for us to visit as part of this #ArtsCrusade.

We also discovered that William Morris was "amazeballs" - designer, printer, bookmaker, philanthropist, conservationist, socialist, artsncraftcrusader, was there anything he couldn't turn his hand to?

The gallery is really hands on for kids, there was a queue in the corner where you get to lay out paper against 2 mirrors set at 90 degree angles to create a repeating pattern using stencils. Sounds complicated, but we're gonna fangle our own and do it as one of our after school craft activities. She did some weaving and stained glass making and we shared a most delicious pie.

We loved the whole experience and left feeling 'bobtimistic'.

Arts Crusader Rating ⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️

Up one hill and over another, we came upon a mini Stratford Upon Avon - tudor houses, a church and a cemetery perched looking down on the village, who knew such olde worlde wonders existed in Walthamstow? Worth a trip for this alone!

Next up and the highlight of our #ArtsCrusade so far, was the glorious, glittering God's Own Junkyard - "where neon never dies" - an absolute feast for the senses.

Before he passed away in November 2014, artist Chris Bracey resurrected and repaired neon and bulb lights, from movie sets, fairgrounds and far flung places. He created pieces for artists including Martin Creed and brands looking for something quirky and beautiful. He obviously loved his work because it SINGS!

We were gobsmacked. The Girlchild's chin hit the floor. She and her friend spent an hour taking photos and the staff were firm but brilliantly good humoured about having the grownups keep an eye out in case of accidents.
There's a cafe-bar on site serving delicious homemade cakes and a fine selection of beverages. With a gin-palace on one side and a brewery on the other, adults (with or without kids in tow) really have all bases covered, so GET YOURSELF DOWN HERE QUICKSMART. Thank you Chris Bracey for this inspirational place.

Arts Crusader Rating ⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️+ ⚡️

Lesson learned from this week's #KickUpTheArts? My kids are the lights of my life (did I really say that???). I want them to grow up confident, happy, open to new experiences and free to express themselves. Exposure to arts and culture from the earliest stages will help make this happen. We need more art in schools. Art makes people powerful.

Art. Makes ya smart.

Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and go all the way to Walthamstow to remind yourself of that ;)

The Arts Crusader ⚡️

P.S. I'd love to hear your stories and suggestions, feel free to comment, to follow the Arts Crusade on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and to give yourself a #KickUpTheArts