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PLAYING UP: becoming a living artwork together

Photo by Rob Harris

PLAYING UP is an artwork by Sibylle Peters, exploring the potential of live art to bridge generations. Drawing on key live art themes and seminal works, PLAYING UP takes the form of a game played by adults and kids together.

Back in February, a team of ten adults from Artsadmin and LADA visited Year 3 at Canon Barnett Primary School in Tower Hamlets. We were armed with felt pens, corn flour, wigs, dog leads, vegetables, string – everything we needed to make the ordinary extraordinary, protest, break the rules and remake our own.

We kicked off the morning by exploring Marina Abramović’s Freeing the Voice. Lying on our backs, the group screamed collectively for five minutes. Discussing how this activity made us feel, we were met with beautifully profound answers such as ‘I felt like I was dying but still alive.’

Breaking off into smaller groups, we spent the day exploring our PLAYING UP cards. Here are a few of our highlights from the rest of the day:

  • Creating jewellery made from vegetables, leading to an impromptu catwalk, with creations including lettuce leaf fascinators, courgette necklaces and carrot earrings. 
  • Replicating the stance and posture of our chosen famous icons from Picasso and Guy Fawkes to Michael Jackson.
  • Using mobile phones as remote controls as the children instructed some of the adults in the car park below, with highlights such as:
    • ‘Dance like you are in the 80s’
    • ‘Pick up that builder!’
    • ‘Do the splits!’
  • Creating our own protest signs, crashing the lower years’ playtime to spread our important messages. The group chanted and raised their signs, leading a mass protest in the playground that every child joined in with.
Photo by Rob Harris

“It was truly amazing to see the children so involved in the Artsadmin and LADA activities. The whole of the five senses were put to use in creating and experiencing art, and the children became active arts ambassadors within the school, with a fully blown march in the playground featuring placards and slogans to Make Art Free‘.”

Katia, Year 3 class teacher

We had an incredible experience collaborating with the children, whose energy and curiosity was infectious. They told us that they left with more of an understanding of what live art is and how we are all potential artists in our own right.

Find out more about PLAYING UP.

Read more about Artsadmin’s education programme.

Artsadmin’s Playing Up at Canon Barnett Primary School. Photo by Rob Harris.