What?: The last time we schlepped down to Dulwich for DPG’s brilliant Mini Masterpieces 0-2s class Babu was about 22 months old and pretty much a fully grown woman compared with the 15 or so barely crawling babies that made up the rest of the group. We live too far away to get down to that corner of London for the session’s 10am start on the regular (and just in general really), so despite loving our first class we sadly only returned once more before she outgrew it altogether. Then this summer I discovered that not only was the gallery introducing a similar Art Adventurers session for older toddlers, but it was going to be run by Holly Dabbs, a creative educator and all round babe who I’ve followed on Instagram forever (or maybe like a year coz I haven’t had it that long). Obviously we got ourselves tickets for the first session.
I loved the tour-of-the-gallery-followed-by-messy-art format of the Mini Masterpieces classes and was so pleased that Art Adventurers follows the same pattern. The gallery part is predictably a bit more interactive than the session for babies (which as I seem to remember from the Tove Jansson class basically involved doing my back in lifting Babu up to see all the drawings) and included singing, fashioning hats from scarves and examining the permanent collection with Jerome the hand-puppet lion, all led by an animated and super-enthusiastic (but not cringe) Holly, who had everyone totally mesmerised. I particularly loved that the kids were led around the gallery by a rope, which went from being quite cute at the beginning to being so stupidly adorable I wanted to poo when they all put their little scarf turbans on.
Back in the studio the art activity was super-simple but really effective, with big sheets of paper taped to the floor, ready to be covered in poster paint by way of brushes, rollers and sponges. There were no overcomplicated cutting-and-sticking tasks and no instructions other than to get stuck in, which is always such a relief with a two year old who very much marches to the beat of her own drum. Was it worth the £12? I’d say so, yes. It’s one of those sessions where you get so engrossed that when it’s suddenly time to go home and you wonder what the hell just happened, and the venue is really quite special (although if they fancy throwing in a free coffee that would be really great too).
Where and When?: Art Adventurers sessions take place once a month, on Wednesdays or Fridays at 10am (check the link below for dates). The gallery is a 12-minute walk from North Dulwich station and sessions begin in the Linbury Room.
Best Bits: We loved the whole thing but my favourite bit of any activity is always going to be Babu dressing up and wandering round looking ridiculous.
Worst Bits: I always feel like these sessions should be at least half an hour longer, if only to justify the three-hour round trip – but then I guess not everyone lives on the other side of London.
Facilities: Buggy park, step-free access, baby changing, on-site cafe, materials provided.
Cost: £12 per child.
Would We Come Back?: Yes! Each session will take on a different theme and I’m excited to see what’s next.
Bab meets Jerome the Lion at Art Adventurers, Dulwich Picture Gallery.