Showcasing early years art at Greengables Nursery

Over the past two years we have worked in partnership with Starcatchers, Scotland’s Arts and Early Years Organisation, and Greengables Nursery to facilitate enriching creative learning experiences for children aged 0-5 years old. The Wonder Studio project, funded by the Ragdoll Foundation, has focused on the principles of co-production to empower children to express themselves creatively and use their voice. Inspired by Fruitmarket exhibitions, visual artist Katy Wilson and performance artist Kerry Cleland worked collaboratively to run a variety of weekly creative sessions at Greengables Nursery, situated in Niddrie, Edinburgh. 

Workshops were child-centred and utilised the Nursery’s outdoor garden area to encourage playful approaches to making for up to 45 children. Sessions included exploring a variety of tactile materials such as powder and plaster in response to Fruitmarket’s Karla Black’s exhibition, creating banners to explore environmental themes relating to the work of Jyll Bradley, also spray painting, costume design and making music. Children were invited on two trips to Fruitmarket, one in 2022 to take part in our ‘Heads Up!’ showcase – the first trip for many children since the pandemic began – and one in 2023 to visit our Poor Things exhibition.

Greengables Nursery Gallery will be a lasting legacy for the Wonder Studio project. Early years practitioners worked alongside Fruitmarket’s team to display children’s artwork from the past two years in the Nursery’s light-filled, central foyer space, transforming it into a gallery which will be left as a permanent feature. Other Nursery settings in Edinburgh have since expressed interest in implementing similar creative display spaces for their children. Family members, carers and staff attended to view the young people’s bold and brilliant creations and celebrate their achievements.

They commented on the various ways that the project had positively impacted children’s wellbeing:

 

 

My child has been speaking more about her feelings when doing art

 

He is calmer and has other ways to calm his emotions

 

The children recognised their pieces they had worked on and named some of the artwork, which gave them ownership and pride in their work.

 

It has given him an opportunity to explore different ways of expressing his creativity. He certainly has really become more confident in making and designing art.


Nicola, Head Teacher at Greengables, commented on the many ways that The Wonder Studio has positively impacted early development stages for children; improving literacy through the use of descriptive language to title their pieces and discuss exhibitions, developing their self confidence in empowering children to know that they are the experts on their own creations, and helping to foster a sense of pride by showcasing their artwork to visitors. The Wonder Studio has reinforced to children that their unique ideas and contributions will be listened to and are valued. 

Another long-term outcome of The Wonder Studio was that nine Greengables staff members and nine Fruitmarket front of house staff members have received training in creativity in early-years practice. This has helped to equip them with the confidence and skills to use creative methods to engage in a meaningful way with young children in their respective settings going forward.

The nursery practitioners commented:

 

I feel more confident in trying different and new ways to explore art and be creative. It has been an enjoyable experience for me as well as a new experience and I now look at art in a different way

 


On a personal level, the project has been very inspirational with ideas to be more creative, using lots of different types of resources so the children can explore colour and textures.

 

Alongside this core Nursery programme, Katy and Kerry have been delivering exciting, multi-sensory experiences for children, babies and their parents/carers at Fruitmarket in our gallery and warehouse spaces.

Visitors commented:


It was like nothing else we have been to, it was fantastic

 


This session has been wonderful for my baby’s fine motor skills, problem solving and understanding of effects

There will be more bookable sessions available in the coming months. Fruitmarket will continue to work with early years settings to explore meaningful ways to platform young voices through engagement with contemporary art. 

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