Friday night was Date Night. One of my friends insists upon Friday Night being sacred for dates with her partner, and I've decided it's not a bad thing, except that I don't hire a babysitter every week, I have Date Night every fortnight when Bumblebee is off learning how the other half lives. Alternate Friday nights we try to have a family date. So, last week it was Coraline and ratty, this Friday it was District 9 and aliens. I realise in my excitement I twittered SECTION 9, which is classic me, I get everything wrong even when it's printed on a ticket in front of me. I'm not usually one for gore, but this movie was terrific, funny and interesting.
I'd had a stressful making day on Friday, lots of doubt and fear about the impending exhibition, so aliens wreaking revenge upon gun-toting South African men was just the ticket. Bernice came over last week and we discussed the Doubt and Fear thing. It's not the 'exhibition' that worries me, it's the 'solo' bit. My playful work is fine when it's bouncing off someone else's theme, and interacting with other people's playfulness, but I'm not sure it can hold its own on its own, if you know what I mean. When I think about my opening, my mind jumps to my first 'grown-up' kissing experience: standing in the carpark of the local rollerskating rink with a ring of excited teenagers around us chanting 'SNOG! SNOG! SNOG!' whilst clapping. The pressure to be cool was enormous, especially when he stuck his tongue in and I had to gag inwardly instead of openly. I've been nervous of public expectations ever since, even though I know in my heart that I can usually cope.
ANYHOO, I went to bed on Friday night hoping that I would dream a few solutions to my immediate problems, and woke on Saturday feeling a bit better. I spent the day in the studio looking hard at what I've made / gathered / played with so far, culled some things and adjusted others, and came away feeling much better and with a determined 'f*ck it, they'll have to love me just as I am' attitude. Not sure if I can maintain that over the next ten days, but I'll try.
Today I had a lot of fun. I spent the afternoon at the Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG, pronounced Cee-Mag) teaching three book workshops aimed at 4 to 8 year-old kids in honour of Book Week. We made Secret Pocket Diaries, which are 'snake' concertina books folded down from one folded and slit sheet of paper, then decorated and stuck up with tape to make a special book all about the child, complete with a secret pocket to hide things from the reader. It was great. I'm kicking myself because I took photos, but left the cord for my phone at the studio so that I can't download the photos.
The kids had a ball, and they made fantastic books. Each group had up to 24 kids along with their adults, and the first group was having such a good time that we were finding it hard to get them out in time for the next session, when suddenly the fire alarm started. And kept going. And kept going, so that we had to evacuate. We all stood out in the square outside CMAG, wondering what to do. One of the fantastic staff gathered the children together and did an impromptu book reading on the steps of the Canberra Theatre, and by complete coincidence, two police officers were going past with Constable Kenny Koala for a separate event in the same building; they were stuck outside as well, so they put on a quick performance for us.
Later in the day, when we were all cleaning up, I glanced at one of the evaluation forms filled in by a parent on behalf of their child. In the space left for 'What was your favorite event of the day' was written 'fire evacuation'! What with book readings, Constable Kenny and the flashing, noisy fire engines, it was pretty exciting.
CMAG have an amazing team of really dedicated educational officers, and while today's events (watercolour painting, story readings, indigenous story-telling, face painting, book arts workshops; all completely free) were in honour of Book Week, they also have a regular CMAG on Sunday program on the first Sunday of every month, and I can't recommend it highly enough. It's one of those regular events that isn't well known, but once you've found out about it, you wonder how you lived without it (if you have children of the right age). I wish it had been around when Bumblebee was smaller.
I'd like to thank Ben, who was my very able assistant, and Amelia, who was a wonderful boss for the day. Plus all the other people in the amazing team. I haven't taught a dedicated kid's class apart from various school groups (as volunteer Mum), and I really enjoyed it. I rode home on the treadlie hoping I could do that particular class plan again somewhere/sometime, because even though I'd mapped it all out beforehand, it wasn't until the third and final session that I'd worked out how to REALLY teach it (or perfect it), and it would be a shame not to use that method again. Maybe it's something I could propose for Woodford next application...