Little Art – Ealain Bheag

Little Art – Ealain Bheag, a collaboration between Brògan Beaga Gaelic Parent & Toddler Toddler Group and An Talla Solais, Ullapool

A Dynamic Seascape Installation – led by Eireann Strange

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Ealain airson pàistean òga – gu dè tha sin a’ ciallachadh? Chan eil mòran, ann an dòigh, ach aig an aon àm, nach eil gach uile rud a dheanadh an feadhainn bheag cho fìnealta ealtanta ‘s iad a’ gabhal pàirt leis gach uile ceudfàth a th’ aca.

Agus tha an t-uabhas de chothroman ann cànan a bhrosnachadh fhad ‘s a bhios a h-uile duine trang a dh’obair; cluinnidh iad faclan, gràmar agus ruitheam nàdarra a’ chànain.

What does art mean to toddlers? Nothing and everything, all at the same time, probably. All of life is an exuberance of experiences, one more sublime than the next. Everything is boundless, mould-breaking exploration of infinite possibilities.

Kandinsky, keep your circles… my mummy blows bubbles in my bath that are far more ethereal than all your shapes. Dalí, my life is ten times more surreal than yours every day. Jackson Pollock, you want to see a mess, come dine with me!

Any art project involving babies and toddlers must, by its very nature, take account of the interests and learning styles of these gifted youngsters in order to help them to engage deeply. The senses are everything – all learning takes place through them. And given that 90% of a lifetime’s worth of brain connections are formed by age three there’s no better time to start!

“Absorbing a host of impressions through all the senses is a baby’s primary task. A person’s entire life is not sufficient to erase the impressions absorbed in childhood because a child’s whole being, like a large eye, is wide open.” (Friedrich Froebel)

And, of course, while you’re creating you’re usually also busy communicating. In a second-language setting these types of activities offer rich opportunities for developing vocabulary as well as listening to the natural flow of language, its cadences, its rhythms and its implicit grammatical constructions. Sharing this with your beloved person (be it parent, granny or childminder) makes it all the more special and supports bonding and attachment.

Our Dynamic Seascape Installation was built up over four sessions.

First, Eireann mixed up a veritable feast of natural dyes using flour and water as a base and then adding weird and wonderful substances such as turmeric, cinnamon and red cabbage with bicarbonate of soda which makes – of course! – blue.

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This led to a highly enjoyable and very sensory painting session and formed the backbone of the beach and deep sea components.

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Session two took place on the beach on a cool May morning. Beachcombing or, indeed, any outdoor activity is wonderful for young and old alike and the opportunities for language are immense; as is the sense of wellbeing in sharing such a pleasant activity with those we love best.

We collected items we could use for printing and lots more besides!

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Session three saw us trying to make prints from the objects we had collected. This activity took place on a cold, rainy Friday morning and was a very soothing, gentle and utterly absorbing task for these two young artists and their mums.

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Session four was all hands on deck and everybody getting stuck into the paint. The intention had been to print two hands together for little crabs but the children knew best… fish were needed and fish we got.

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All that remained for us grown-ups to do was to assemble the finished masterpiece to reveal the beauty of our native seashore, never far from our minds in our picturesque surroundings.

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Some words that came in useful…

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This project was made possible through funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Lisa MacDonald, CALA Parent and Toddler Group Development Coordinator