A fourth instalment of stories from my recent playwork practice at White City Adventure Playground, west London, takes the form of stories in pictures. I have some photographs left over, and which I wanted to make use of. I shall be back at White City in a couple of weeks’ time: things will, no doubt, have evolved; I will hear stories; I will learn more of play that happens. So now, this final instalment of my first week on the adventure playground marks another pause in my blogging. More of the land must be seen. I shall be back again in nine days.
Tools of Play
For some reason, I often find myself either amazed or fascinated (and sometimes, if I’m honest, a little concerned) when I see children using tools in their play. However, most of the time they do know what they’re doing. Some are a little cack-handed; some will not fully appreciate that sawing towards your own knee might hurt. Many, though, can use a wall stapler without hurting themselves or bang nails into a lump of wood with a hammer. It’s a matter of trust.
As an added extra, I couldn’t resist posting my favourite Calvin and Hobbes cartoon:
Play can happen almost anywhere and with anything. It sometimes irritates the adults (for whatever reason), but play is something that just takes a hold. Here, I was amused to see what happened when two boys, spilt powder paint, a water hose, and some paving slabs all came together in one place!
If it’s Still There, Paint it
The dens at the side of the playground had started the week before I arrived on site. They’d been left intact in recent gang incursions onto the site. They seem to be almost part of the furniture the week I’m there. Maybe it’s only fitting then that they’ve earned the right to be painted.
One morning, Hassan hung some white sheets around the playground. ‘Welcome to the ghost town,’ he told us. The creative urge took him on a journey of some sculpture. It’s a sculpture because of the care and attention Hassan put into it. I thought, as he created, it had the makings of a possible totem, a point of playground reference. As it turned out, one of the children really took to the mask. A whole mask painting session flowed out of this. The ghost town became the occupied playground.
The Leftoverness of Play
A few weeks ago I wrote some sort of lament on the fact that I found it difficult to find leftover play where I live. Play such as handprints is what I was looking for then. I don’t know if these handprints are adults’ or children’s doing, or if they’re the leftover combined play frame of a day. It doesn’t matter. Play has happened here.
The children had slopped paint on the platform bridge. I hadn’t noticed on the day that they did it, but the paint had dribbled through and striped the wood chippings. This just appealed to my artistic self!
Seas in Unusual Places
The children had taken a lot of time to paint up here on the platform, I was told. The sea that will wash away in the rain. Play doesn’t mind: it can all happen again . . .
The Light Bridge
Connor and I found some wraps of coloured cellophane. The sun was already high and hot and I held the cellophane up and let the light fall through it. We have to try to get this up somewhere, I told him! So, maybe it was appealing to my own artistic desires and experiments somewhat, but these things need to be tried. We went through various ideas on how to get the thin sheets to stay in the light. In the end, and by accident, the simplest of ideas make themselves known: we stapled the cellophane to the wood! In the spirit of affective play spaces, I like to think that the transient space we created between the platforms was that much more enhanced by the colours that fell onto the wood chips.