I have only very rarely taken Betsy to an art gallery before. I think the last time I did was to see the Jeremy Deller exhibition at the Hayward Gallery when Betsy was seven months old. It was a bit of a disaster really. A bored and teething Boo meant I spent most of the time there comforting her and failing to see much of the work (what I did see was excellent though). I’ll tell you this for nothing, those concrete stairwells are really very effective at carrying and amplifying the sound of a crying baby. I think the looks I got from the majority of the childless visitors also at the exhibition put me off taking a child to something like that since. Well until now. There’s Tate Modern of course, who are famously family friendly and I intend to take a trip down there with the kiddos soon and Whitechapel Gallery do a series of tours called Crib Notes for parents and their children under the age of five, I’ve just booked a ticket for the tour in March. Come and join me!
And then there was last week. I had heard about Julio Le Parc’s first solo exhibition at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery a while back and it sounded like a really good introduction to galleries and art in general to small children. And it really is. It’s a very interactive exhibit with lots of things for the little ones to enjoy. There are buttons to press that make a box of ping pong balls move and make a noise, a room full of floor to ceiling mirrors to walk around (it’s a very small room, about 2x2m, but it’s surprisingly easy to get disorientated in there. Good fun though) and although I think the political aspect was lost on her, Betsy loved throwing juggling balls at various silhouettes of political figures (and when they were hit they made a noise). It’s basically one massive, glorious sensory room.
Even the less interactive works had Betsy captivated as you walked round mostly darkened rooms looking at patterns of light on walls. In fact Betsy loved it so much we walked round the gallery twice.
The gallery is amazingly child friendly. The staff there were friendly and chatted to Betsy, showed her what she could do and generally made us feel very welcome. We were there on a Friday morning, not long after it had opened at ten and it was nicely quiet allowing us to have the run of the place. As the gallery is situated in Kensington Gardens, you have a whole park to explore afterwards. We have yet to visit the Princess Diana playground it it was too cold for Betsy for us to visit this time around, but we’ll be back in the area again I’m sure – I need to take Boo to the Science and Natural History museums and she got very excited at seeing the Royal Albert Hall, the location of the Cbeebies Prom which she’s desperate to see this year.
Julio Le Parc at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery runs until February 15th 2015, so only a couple of weeks left! Entry is free. More information HERE