What?: Hoxton’s Parasol Unit for contemporary art is the backdrop for this interactive workshop, which takes place in this beautiful not-for-profit gallery’s upstairs studio. Created by artist and educator Natalie Zervou, founder of the brilliant Starting with Art, the installation draws inspiration from the dreamy blue tones and subtle hazy effects used by artist Elger Esser, whose exhibition is currently on show in the main gallery space.
The vibe is cool and relaxed, with 0-5s and their carers encouraged to explore the space and use the materials provided as they see fit, whether that involves constructing ‘looking-through’ tools using acetate, illuminating old photo slides using the light box, projecting images onto the wall before working back into them with crayons, or just bandaging themselves in bubble wrap and munching on felt tips (guess who). Zervou was in attendance along with a host of lovely volunteers, all poised to help diminutive artists unleash their creativity and get the most out of the installation.
Where?: Parasol Unit is on Wharf Road in Hoxton and is a 10-minute walk from Angel (Northern) and Old Street (Northern, mainline), but if you’d rather avoid the tube then Essex Road (mainline) and Hoxton (Ginger) are both a 20-minute walk.
Duration: This ‘open-ended’ workshop is two hours long but you’re free to come and go as you please. We got there right at the beginning and stayed pretty much until the last minute, which is unusual for us as Bab usually gets bored and starts deliberately whacking her head on everything within the first hour of most activities.
Best Bits: I loved the handout we were given on arrival assuring us that ‘there is no right or wrong way to approach the space’. I’m a big believer in just letting kids do their thing and I don’t accept that workshops and classes need to be heavily structured to promote learning – in fact I think the reverse is true.
Worst Bits: There were none but I felt sorry for the people who had to clean up the wreckage – particularly since Bab had spent the duration de-lidding every felt tip in sight.
Facilities: Step-free access; baby-changing; restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Cost: An almost unreasonably reasonable £2 per person for visitors young and old(er).
Would We Come Back?: We will be at the next session with great big brass bells on. Apparently it’s happening in June, so not too long to wait.
Bab illuminates herself to sinister effect at Project Light: Elger Esser at Parasol Unit, Hoxton