On a very warm and sunny day on the border between Hackney and Tower Hamlets, parents and children gathered in great numbers to take part in one of the increasingly popular Big Draw events held up and down the country, this event being held at The V&A Museum of Childhood on Cambridge Heath road.
The event was sponsored by Faber-Castell. Who kindly provided materials from the Playing and Learning range to all workshops on the day. As well as free pencils at the door!
Some big names showed their support for the Big Draw, comprising of: Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt with Marion Deuchars, Okido, Culture Cart, Studio Hato, The Great Diary Project, Stitches in Time, Marf, and Josh Knowles. Artist Paul Noble also popped in.
Between 11am and 4:30 pm on Sunday the 28th of September, enthusiastic children and their parents engaged in a wide range of artistic activities ranging from Lino cuts, hat making and screen painting. A combination of the artisans and volunteers were encouraged to station themselves among the contemporary landscaping and lawns outside, and the spacious hall and galley ways of the elegant interiors. Outside on the sloped driveway leading to the entrance of the building, volunteers stretched out large rolls of white paper that lead in wide strips down the driveway almost to the pavement of the main street. Parents and children, well supplied with pens and crayons, used a combination of crouching, squatting and various other improvised positions to engage in artistic mark making.
The results were impressive. With over two thousand visitors on the day, the crowds quickly turned blank white paper into an illustrated tapestry of happy faces, animals, rainbows, busses and mermaids. The visitors showed great range and imagination with a riot of figurative colour, which only added to the effervescent atmosphere. Nearby Josh Knowles dispensed chalks in pastel colours to allow participants to follow his example, and engage in a little street art by drawing directly onto the driveway. Knowles' drawings on the wall depicting the comic strip characters of Pip, Squeak and Wilfred - whose physical soft toy forms were contained within the building - spilled from the walls to mingle with the energetic illustrations created by the children and parents.
One of the highlights of the day was a talk given by the children's book author, and former Children's Laureate Jacqueline Wilson, with a great talk also by Nick Sharratt; famed for his distinctive artwork that illustrates Wilson's books. Popular as ever, tickets for Wilson's autobiographical talk sold out in half an hour. They each talked about their experience of drawing as a child and why drawing was important to them. Before demonstrating how any child in the audience could learn to draw the characters from the Jacqueline Wilson books.
By 4:30pm the temperatures reached beyond 25c. Inside the museum the physical incarnation of Wilfred emerged from a glass cabinet to take a bow, and a cuddle from a little girl, for his birthday. Looking every bit his advanced age, the cuddly toy had learned a thing or two by being observed for years by the public, and managed to conjure some charisma, with little more than an enigmatic look that revealed nothing. Children and adults alike enjoyed Wilfred's party food of cake and chocolate chip cookies, while volunteers tidied and cleared areas of pens and clutter, as families made their way home, on a very well attended day of more than 2500 people at The V&A Museum of Childhood.
Article written by Hogarth Brown for The Big Draw.
Photography by Cristina Cocullo