Monday, July 25, 2011

Moments at the playeum

So Jennifer and Sumitra met at some drama workshop and decided to get a play museum going. So they got together a number of artists, managed to get some funding and turned it into several awesome community art projects and activities that take place atleast every holiday and sometimes even in the middle of the term.

While many people who came to the playeum saw a place where the children could have fun, create something, possibly learn a thing or two, I took some time to chat with Sumitra and Jennifer along with some of the other staff of the playeum when I was at the NEX with Anjali and Sophia, and learnt a thing or two myself

We had almost not gone on Sunday. The idea of spending time in a mall basement, no matter how kid friendly, was not our idea of fun, especially since the mall was really far away from home. However, husband had to go to PayaLebar to collect his triathlon race pack and since Serengoon was just a couple of stations away, I took the children to the NEX.

I am glad that we went. The event was not in the basement after all, but outside. We were met with an installation with white and blue helium balloons, which I would later learn represented the sky and clouds. A huge PVC construction was under it. The construction began as nothing a couple of days ago, and over time with pieces of pipes became a city, which had drawings all over it. Dotting the city, quite densely, were the houses that the children had built.

Anjali and Sophia immediately sat down to build houses. While Anjali was quite happy to take my folded up paper bag and cut out doors and color the roofs while I made stick people for her, Sophia went around exploring the basket of supplies. She got out some colored plastic paper, some origami paper and her favorite supply - glue and tried to glue the plastic onto the paper bag. When it didnt work, she threw it down in frustation and said

"I cannot make my house mummy!!"

In the meantime, Anjali had finished cutting out her doors and windows and I had finished making a stick man.

I stuck a straw ensemble under her paper bag to make it more robust and helped her to stick things on more robustly. While we finished up her house and Anjali completed hers we went up to the city to hang them up

"I want to put people in my house", said Sophia, not at all content that the stick men were strolling the city roads instead of staying in the comfort of her house.

So we got glue and tape and glued one of the men in.

"I want nother man! Want losh of man!"

Seriously, for a sweet kid with dimples, she can sometimes be a stubborn monster.

I stuck the second man on as well

"Wow!", said Anjali. "One yellow man and one pink man. The pink is the girl and the yellow is the boy"

"Why having no fashe mummy?", said the other imp

So I made her go for markers and put a couple of facial features on the stick men. Really, there is nothing like a two year old to make you do your art lesson properly.

"Why there are two men on Sophia's house and no men on my house?", asked Anjali

"Well, the pink girl lives in your house and she has gone to visit the yellow man in Sophia's house", I said

I am glad to say that I kept most of the impatience out of my voice.

Then the kids went to the other side and built their food cities.

I have to comment something about Sophia. While I home, she would squeeze out all the glue from the bottle and I would end up with a gluey mess, here, she controlled the glue, concentrated and made a really nice food city. Anjali worked mostly by herself and husband helped her to get her buildings folded.

While Anjali's design was, as it has always been, minimalist and purposeful, Sophia's designs were not very minimalist. Infact, she glued about a hundred felt eggs on her plate. Then she wanted to take her work home. It took some work to convince her to leave it as part of the installation.

While the girls drew on the city and extended it, I stepped back and looked at the installation and saw something that I had missed on my previous visits to the playeum - a sense of passion and teamwork. Having worked on IEP for the past seven years, I have seen the importance of teamwork in making an event a success. I have known the thoughts that come with event organization, when you spend a lot of effort into equipment and logistics and wake up int he middle of the night wondering whether it will rain, or if there would be a Tsunami in Japan.

Ofcourse, the playeum has the advantage of choosing public places for their activities, which means a number of people are sure to attend, but in the end their problem is the same as ours. How many people are going to stick? And it is only the most passionate of them who will.

Incidentally, the hairstyle on Anjali's head is called a Maria Kondai. IT consists of two pony tails on either side and one at the back tying the two together

Dont even ask whose idea it was

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