Art Week DAY 2: Giacometti at Tate Modern

Myles, 5, went to a press view at Tate Modern today to review a new exhibition of Giacometti’s sculptures. Watch the video, and do come back later this week to find out how to make your own sculptures inspired by Giacometti.

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Meanwhile, I (Sara) have been at Hockney’s exhibition at Tate Britain with my daughter Grace, 1. Grace is a bit of a pro at art galleries now. She went to the National Portrait Gallery to see Caravaggio when she was six months old. I found, to my surprise, that she enjoyed it quite a lot. But perhaps it’s not that surprising. Galleries are full of well-lit, colourful artwork and people looking at art. That’s a lot of stuff for a baby to be stimulated by. Plus, mummy was in a great mood because she was out doing cultural stuff and got to eat some gallery cake.

Of course, the bigger the small people get, the more stimulation they need. So we asked artist Emma Middleton to give us 5 Games to Play in an Art Gallery:

1 GO ON A SCAVENGER HUNT Take your small person to the shop to choose a few postcards of art that’s in the exhibition then set them the task of finding these paintings. They can use the back of the postcard to react to it, drawing what they see. It’ll probably be that random duck in the corner that no one else has noticed, and that’s great! Older children might also like to write a note to the artist.

2 PLAY I SPY Children of all ages can play this because you can change what you’re spotting to suit them. Try, “I spy something red.” “I spy something floating in water.” Or “I spy something smooth.” You might also explore spotting 2D or 3D art, like sculptures and paintings. A good way to describe 3D is to say you can walk all the way around it, like a person. Something 2D is flat and you can only see the front.

3 TELL A STORY Every piece of art tells a story. To bring that story alive, experiment with putting your child into the painting. Not literally of course! Ask lots of questions and prepare yourself for the crazy answers… “The boat’s sinking and you’re on it! What will you do?” “I’ll jump!” “Where?” “In the puddle!” “What puddle? There’s no puddle!” “I don’t care!” Don’t worry if it gets a bit shouty.

4 MAKE SOME MULTIMEDIA ART If the gallery allows photos, let your child discover something to photograph or film on your phone. It might be someone looking at the art (if they don’t mind), a section of a painting, or probably a photo of you with no head. But hey, we’re sure that means something. Make sure they know they just made some art.

5 PLAY WITH PAPER Set each other the challenge of creating an object out of paper that you can see in one of the paintings, and then use the object to bring that painting to life. You might make a boat and sail it next to a boat in a painting. Or make a bow tie that helps you become the character in a portrait. Explore and discover what ideas come to you.

ALSO, don’t forget to take SNACKS. That’s all we’ll say. Forget them at your peril …

This is what your small person just learnt:

All of these games are great at keeping you sane in a public place, of course. But their hidden aim is to help children understand that ART HAS MEANING and to feel confident talking about it. Just imagine the playground going silent when they start talking about Giacometti’s genre-breaking existential sculptures. (That’s Jack-o-met-ee, by the way).

Emma is an artist and curator at The Foundling Museum where she leads art sessions for families. To find out more, visit The Foundling Museum website.

Giacometti is at Tate Modern until 10 September. Hockney is at Tate Britain until 29 May.