2006: Valley House Children’s Centre Flat Matt Shaw, Barbara Jones and I were invited by Baljit Gill and others to develop a temporarily empty flat adjacent to the centre as a creative learning environment for young children, families, practitioners, visitors, professionals and others.
And here are a couple of films…
We used many different types of materials including recycled objects and resources, mechanical items, fabric, natural materials, metal, lighting, overhead projectors, mirrors and objects of interest. All the rooms were developed in some way even the toilet!
There were two limited outside areas – a patio at the entrance but out of sight of the accommodation, in which we placed smelly plants such as mint and rosemary, bamboo constructions and other resources for people to explore, and a balcony which became a water-play area.
The Flat was used for training not only for Valley House but for other practitioners and professionals mainly from Coventry. Families, parents and older children also made visits.
It was also offered to any interested parties such as other artists.
The idea was that the space was flexible and people could develop and change things.
It was a very stimulating and full environment designed to facilitate imaginative thinking about creative learning. It modelled ways of developing even the smallest and most awkward spaces.
We kept a journal and documented much of the process, exploration and developments.
We then went on to develop another Valley House space – ‘The Cabin’ which was an extension of ‘The Flat’ project.
Both ‘The Flat’ and ‘The Cabin’ happened as a direct result of our work on the Coventry Creative Partnerships Early Years Project ‘2nd Skin’ which involved 11 artists (including the three of us) building ‘The Lab’ – a multi-sensory, creative learning environment in Charter Primary School (now demolished).
2nd Skin was a Coventry-wide project working with several schools and serving to inspire practitioners to develop their own spaces more creatively for early years children and beyond. It was based on the ideas of the Reggio Emilio nurseries in Italy.
These two creative learning spaces developed many of the ideas and research started with the 2nd Skin project.