Today, at Whitworth Art Gallery, I not only got to visit a park, I got to BE a park. Kind of. I actually came here last week with Mr Parklover on our wedding anniversary to visit the American print exhibition. Whilst there, we picked up a leaflet about their “toddlertastic” activities on Monday mornings. Finding myself at a loose end this morning, I gave the nice people at the Whitworth a ring and they fitted us into the 11.30-12.30 session – there’s a busier 10.30-11.30 one. The sessions are on a 4 week rota and alternate between dance, drama, music and art, with actvities based around current exhibitions.
We walked across Whitworth Park to get to the gallery. It’s large and picturesque (especially at this time of year) and great for running around in. Just outside the gallery building are various sculptures, inculding one which has recently been acquired and is linked to the “Deeprooted” exhibition, exploring how trees shape our lives. Also outside are plenty of picnic tables.
The sessions are held in large, airy room which has huge floor to ceiling windows overlooking the adjacent park. I was admiring it last week, it’s an amazing space, so I was delighted to discover that this was where our session was going to be held. It’s as near as you could get to being in a park whilst sat inside.There’s a picture below of just one of these windows below, but the entire wall is made up of these!
Our music session was inspired by the “Deeprooted” exhibition, hence the requirement to listen to the nice lady playing her violin and pretend to be a tree growing. This brought back memories of being about 8 and at primary school. In a PE lesson we had to listen to some music and pretend to be a leaf falling from tree. The music stopped and the teacher angrily proclaimed,
“No-one’s TRYING, the only person doing it properley is KATHERINE, everybody STOP and watch what she’s doing!”
With every part of me cringing, I then had to perform my “swirly leaf” in front of the rest of the class. If I ever need therapy, I may well send Mrs X the bill!
However, I’m a long way from primary school now and having a small child is an excellent excuse to behave in a ridculous manner and get away with it, as I frequently like to. I can often be seen in public places “dancing” with my shadow or performing comedy running as I “race” against my 2 year old. Therefore singing songs about leaves and cats in trees, or choosing my favourite tree pose and freezing it, carries no stigma for me these days.
It’s brilliant that these (and more) sessions put on at the Whitworth are free and that they are completely unstuffy about letting a load of tots and their grownups create a din. An art gallery is the last place you would expect to be encouraged to bang on a cymbal as loudly as you can but, you know, we had a stuffed hedgehog to wake up and sing to!
I would thoroughly recommend the Whitworth and its handy park-next-door, to anyone. In the space of a few days, I have enjoyed a lovely grown up morning, taking the time to admire 20th Century American prints and a noisy and fun morning with my daughter, resulting in her singing “the kitty went up the tree” until she went to bed tonight. Furthermore, the cafe, operated by the Modern Caterer, is fabulous.
Beautiful park, beautiful building, beautiful exhibitions and beautiful cake.