Uneasy Seasons: The Exhibition for Kids and Teens at the National Gallery of Victoria
When you’ve got a big family or like to go on outings with groups of friends, it can be difficult to find an activity that suits a wide range of ages, but the National Gallery of Victoria has managed to keep everyone happy – from toddlers to teens and even adults – with their latest exhibition.
‘Uneasy Seasons’ by artist Fiona Hall is divided into two distinct and contrasting rooms, each dominated by a large ‘treehouse’ structure in which cosy cubicles for two are set up as craft-making stations.
The first room, named ‘Who Lives Here’ is light and bright, representing new beginnings, and is aimed at children. Here they can create an animal and its habitat, either real or imaginary, using the materials supplied – glue, scissors, pencils and a fantastic array of patterned papers. With no guidelines or rules, their imaginations go into overdrive – it was brilliant wandering around and seeing all the finished creations hung from string in the treehouse space. Some made me laugh (11-year-old Jasper’s ‘Roberto’ the dancing fish who is expected to be the next Justin Bieber was a standout) and some gave me pause for thought as the children’s concerns about the environment were expressed.
The room aimed at teenagers – called ‘Send A Message’ – was perfectly ‘goth’ enough for our 13 and 14-year-old girls. It was bathed in darkness, with just a hint of lighting, and it made me wonder if the dark wallpaper with skulls and skeletons might scare the younger children, but none of them seemed in the least bit fazed.
In this treehouse, participants are encouraged to communicate a message via the creation of their own emoji. The older kids took it really seriously, exploring themes like depression and bullying, and spent a lot of time designing their emoji from the craft materials supplied, then writing about their thoughts on the back, before hanging it up for display. The younger children were more light-hearted with their emoji (think lots of sticking-out tongues and winking eyes), but everyone had a ball, and we wiled away two hours before we knew it. There was not one complaint of being bored from our group of eight children, who ranged in age from six to fourteen, so I’m chalking that up as a big win!
Uneasy Seasons manages to perfectly combine thought-provoking subject matters with entertainment and enjoyment, which to me is what art is all about. Entry is free, and it’s open from 10am until 5pm daily, until the 8th October, so head to the treehouses at the NGV International and see what conversations and creations arise.