Art Basel 2015

Art Basel Hong Kong gives children introduction to art

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 March, 2015, 6:04am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 March, 2015, 6:04am

Children and expensive art don't usually make good bedfellows but at this year's Art Basel, families with young children were treated to an expanded programme designed to give little artists hands-on experience with creative activity.

Led by lead sponsor UBS, the various activities were inspired by the bank's extensive collection of contemporary art. A key work, Roy Lichtenstein's The Melody Haunts My Reverie, was on display near the Junior Art Hub, and there were works by artists Gilbert & George and Wayne Thiebaud.

Accommodating 2,000 children over four days, the series of 45-minute sessions included printmaking, sand painting, making photograms and a community art wall, in addition to the spin-art painting, stamp and sticker projects that also featured last year.

My 11-year-old, Francesca, attended last year's programme and was looking forward to another enjoyable afternoon. This time round, she went on to make a photo print, which involved creating her own storyboard, resulting in an original artwork.

The most successful new addition, however, was the inaugural Junior Art Tour: art specialists led children on a 50-minute walk through the fair introducing key works, including Beijing artist Gao Weigang's Consume, which stimulated an interesting discussion about modern lifestyles.

Children were given a custom-designed book giving visual clues about the artworks and posing questions such as: "Would you put this in your home? If so, where and why?"

The young critics were encouraged to score each piece referenced in the book on a scale from zero to 10. Blank pages providing space for budding artists to sketch additions to the artwork or simply doodle were a thoughtful touch.

Across town at the Art Central satellite event, the fair partnered with the Savannah College of Art and Design to conduct a series of tours tailored for children aged from five to eight and from nine to 13 years old. The tours cost HK$100 and included a T-shirt and activity booklet. Among the most popular activities was an interactive graffiti wall installation by the Sovereign Art Foundation, the fair's charity partner.

"Tours are an excellent way to engage with the work on show and children need not be an exception to this rule," says fair co-director Eve Share Banghart.

"Art Loop offered fun and interactive tours of Art Central that engaged kids in arts appreciation, helping them to use their imaginations when approaching contemporary artworks."

It's not just fairs that are encouraging children to engage with modern art today. Institutions such as the Asia Society offer free family tours while French photographer JR's current exhibition offers all ages a chance to print their own black and white portrait as part of his Inside Out Project.

JR: A Survey Exhibition, The Ocean, 3/F, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, until April 12;