We decided to make the most of the Heritage Open Days happening this week, and went to Nature in Art, Twigworth, Gloucester. We had never visited before, but had heard varying reviews. I took the three kids (aged 1-6yrs) and a picnic and spent the afternoon there. We all had a fantastic time.
There is a large garden with many metalwork sculptures to discover, a small wooden adventure playground, and an absolutely fantastic exhibition of individually designed sheep done by local artists. We could also walk through the artist’s studio where the artist had several complete, and in-progress pieces that were interesting to follow her workings. Not really suitable for very small ones! Baby L did attempt to make a dive at her desk and run off with her ginormous scissors. Inside there are 2 large exhibition rooms which the kids found fascinating. Good mix of wall-hung pictures and sculpture. There is also a fab room set aside for children, with brass-rubbing plates with images of several creatures from whales to turtles to dinosaurs, puzzles, feely bags, eco-bricks made from wood with bark still attached, for the kids to make sculptures of their own. A nice stash of interesting and informative things to lose themselves in.
My main negative concern was that the upstairs galleries were not suitable for children. They contain the main collection. Entry is via a staircase or a rickety lift. Once there, nothing is allowed to be touched, and we were followed in every room by the stewardess – not nice 😦 There was a beautiful, smooth, wooden sculpture of a lioness (or something) that was lying length-wise at small child height. H asked if it was ok to touch it, I saw no signs to say otherwise, and said it was alright, and stupidly turned away. The stewardess swooped in and told her off the second I did so. Poor H was really upset.
The clientèle was definitely of the older generation…I saw one other family with small child in tow. Downstairs and outside they had obviously gone to some effort to have something for children to do – a room of their own, and the adventure playground. However, as a home educator, and parent, I really want my children to enjoy art. I can’t believe that sculptors create their works to be looked at from a distance? I thought that was the point of sculpture, a 3D, tactile art form? I think they need to work on having a mix of visual and tactile art, to enable children to engage with the exhibitions too. I know Nature in Art go to a lot of trouble to include children in their events and activities, running art workshops throughout the school holidays, but I think they need to work on not segregating children, but drawing them in.
Although the clientele seemed to be the older generation, there is definitely plenty for young families to enjoy – if you avoid the first floor!