Everything Was Beautiful: family creativity at FACT
Artist Najia Bagi discusses the development of her Everything Was Beautiful workshops which return to FACT on 16 and 18 October
13 October 2014
When FACT's programme producer, Ana Botella, and I first discussed the idea of delivering family sessions at FACT, we had a very excited and heated conversation in the café, where we agreed that it would great to take the work that was being exhibited or the films that were being shown at FACT and use the ideas that lie in those pieces of art to engage families in new and exciting ways. I told Ana that my dream was to one day build a multi-sensory playground for children and we agreed that the upcoming Biennial show by Sharon Lockhart would be a good place to start this work, not least because Lockhart’s show at FACT during the Biennial explores themes of childhood, philosophical inquiry, and the politics of the voice.
2014 is the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and with this celebration comes a reminder that the way that I approach my work with children is dedicated to enabling the expression of children of all ages. It sounds a bit grand but the Convention proudly states that “Nearly 25 years ago, the world made a promise to children: that we would do everything in our power to protect and promote their rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to make their voices heard and to reach their full potential”. Child-led creativity, in my opinion, is an excellent way to encourage children to thrive, learn and grow and to make their voices heard and reach their full potential.
Sharon Lockhart’s film Podwórka soon became the main inspiration for the development of the initial ideas for family sessions at FACT. I found this series of short films of children playing extremely moving. To produce Podwórka Lockhart filmed children as they effortlessly invented their own spaces of play within the existing architecture of derelict courtyards (Podwórka) in Poland. I felt that the films represented how children use their imaginations to change the spaces they inhabit, and how we as adults, sadly, can forget how to do this.
So with the Convention in mind, an inspirational exhibition such as Sharon Lockhart’s to work with, and the excellent support and encouragement of Ana and the Learning team at FACT, I began working up an idea that we could change the city by playing in it. After a few weeks of head-scratching, watching and re-watching Podwórka and a lot of conversations with friends, asking them what their “perfect place” would be, I settled on the idea that during these family sessions we would all work together to change the city by working outside FACT, in Ropewalks Square, to make the place look the way we want it to, using our imaginations and importantly using play to make these changes. I decided to call it Everything was Beautiful after one of my favourite quotes, told to me by a friend and never forgotten since: “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt” from Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I haven’t even read the book but when I hear that quote I imagine the state of mind when in total peace. I wanted to encourage the participants of the sessions to create this peaceful, lovely place themselves.
Visit the Everything Was Beautiful project page to find out more. The workshops take place on 16 October for babies under the age of 18 months and 18 October for everyone aged 5 - 12. They are completely free and no booking is required.