There’s no reason for kids to stop being creative if you go away on holiday. Even if you stay at home the (hopefully) long sunny summer days, and extra time that the summer holidays bring, provide the perfect opportunity to experiment with a bit of land art.
Land art is the name given to the practice of creating artwork outdoors using only the natural materials you find around you. For me, land art not only comes from the landscape but also forms part of it, so is never intrusive. At its best, it is both influenced by and gives something back to its environment in a never-ending virtuous circle. It is not meant to be permanent, but to weather and degrade, and continually change like the natural environment it is a part of. It is then, intended to be ephemeral, and this is an important part of its beauty – just how ephemeral will depend upon the materials used. On a beach, the artwork might be washed away by the next tide, but a piece of artwork constructed out of stones on moorland may last a lot longer. Part of the attraction of this artform is that you need absolutely no materials or equipment to do it. It’s cheap and it’s convenient. You might say that at its simplest we’re talking sandcastles and snowmen – so land art is nothing new, indeed it has been practiced since time immemorial, but it seems that at present there’s a rediscovery and a growing appreciation of, it’s possibilities and potential.
There are a number of established artists working in this field – perhaps one of the best known is British artist Andy Goldsworthy. A more recent arrival to the genre is Richard Shilling who along with his partner Julia Brooklyn are encouraging a new generation to experiment with this art form through their inspirational website Land Art for Kids. The website gives guidance on and instructions for how to create land art, and includes a variety of sample projects suitable for different environments. Many of these are very simple but surprisingly effective. It’s an art form suitable for all ages and even the youngest child can participate. At the moment the sample projects on the website are intended for children up to the age of 8, but the aim is to add more sophisticated projects soon for older children and teenagers. It also lists projects by season – because while it is especially tempting to get out there and create land art on beautiful summer days, each season brings it’s own challenges, and it’s own materials. So in the autumn you have all those gorgeous coloured leaves and bright berries, the pinecones and the acorns to use, in the winter you have shards of ice and snow and frosted leaves and twigs. Each season allows you to create artwork with its own distinctive qualities and beauty. Because of this richness and variety in terms of both materials and environments there’s no possibility of getting bored!
On the beach you can use pebbles and shells, seaweed and seaglass, driftwood and grasses, and of course water – or you can draw in the sand or sculpt the sand itelf. Larger stones can be used to build with and create sculptures. The only limit is your imagination, and it means that even on a pebble beach there’s still lots of creative potential. Your canvas can be the sand, a large rock or even a rockpool.
Meanwhile if you’re looking for more creative activities that you can do at the beach, I can recommend The Beach Book by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield, which gives lots of suggestions for things to do by lakes, rivers and on the beach. This is part of a whole series of books they have written on outdoor activities for children. Another favourite is ‘The Stick Book’, which has loads of things you can make or do with a stick, since my boys never tire of collecting them!
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