Thoughtful talk with a noticing adult can open a door to deeper looking for child visitors to exhibitions.
In the previous post, I wrote about letting the child lead the visit. It’s the adult, though, who leads the talk, taking a dual focus - on the child and on the painting. Older children can tell you why they stopped at this particular painting. With a very young child like Naya, I have to guess what attracted her attention, and then I can offer it back to her with more talk.
The conversation starts from the child’s interest, and takes it further. Here’s an early Patrick Heron painting I saw in St Ives last spring and some imagined child-friendly talk around it.
Did you see the fish? Yes, there’s two, on the white table. Can you see another one?
can you find a chair in the painting?
It’s called St Ives Window - what can you see through the window?
Perhaps the painter was sitting inside looking out through the window like we did yesterday when it was raining.
look at the blue - here, and her, and here. So many different blues!
and there’s a bright red line. Let’s find some more red lines. Some down here and some up there.
It’s like a square, isn’t it? Do you think that’s the window? Or maybe these black lines are the window frame?
There are lines going up and down, and lines going across.
Look, here’s another painting through a window…
Here’s a list of some of the many things adults can talk about with the child:
details and stories to connect the painting to our lives
what the painting shows us
o objects and landscapes
o colours and change of colour
o light and shade
o lines and diagonals
the title of the painting and what it might suggest
the making of the painting and how it shows on the surface
o brush marks
o how lines cross or avoid each other or create distance
o how colours overlap or merge
o what happens at the edges
o unpainted areas
our responses to the painting
o where it takes us (metaphorically)
o how it makes us feel
o the parts that ‘speak’ to us and the parts that don’t
o what might happen beyond the painting frame
how the painting connects to others, in the exhibition or remembered
© Lynne Cameron 2019