Underbelly Arts Festival

It was a sparkling Sydney day perfect for a morning ferry ride to Underbelly Arts Festival on Cockatoo Island. Beginning with the adventure of a harbour crossing and a picnic on board, it is easy to inspire excitement and enthusiasm in young children. The mysterious landscape of the island makes any experience there like a kind of treasure hunt and today was no exception. With raised curiosity we ascended dimly lit staircases and secret passageways to find labyrinthine worlds of chandeliers, exposed attics promising secrets and digital interactive sound forests.


ZV Live by Zonk Vision. Twyla making sounds looped into the installation.

On arrival we picked up a kids map which was easy to follow but didn’t really live up to it’s name of Underage Art Users Manual which is a fabulous concept and would have been wonderful if it had offered more opportunity for children to respond directly to the artists work. We were very excited for the Tiny Tableau Vivant workshop and loved the artists costume. Unfortunately the discourse about the work was not in language easily understood and while there was a room full of eager children the set up made it difficult for them to participate successfully.


Tableau Vivant by Penelope Benton and Alexandra Clapham. An enticing feast made entirely of lollies. “I love this one the most because there are so many lollies and even though you can’t eat them the colours are beautiful” Twyla, age 4.


‘Mussels’ by Annika Blau and Lewis Doherty. Beautiful work that surprised us with gently moving robotic mussels hypnotic with their slow opening and closing.

Some questions to help children process and respond to contemporary work:

What do you think is interesting about this work? How does it make you feel? What does it remind you of?

Which work did you like the least? Why?

Which work did you like the most? Why?

What would you create in this space if you could use any material you wanted and had as much help as you needed?


We were happy to find art materials strewn in the Kids Hub for spontaneous responses to the experience of the day except when the sketchbook ran out and there was no more paper!

on Aug 4, 2013

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