Kids Get Crafty: Tate Britain & Sea Monsters

Tate Britain
Photo by Tate Britain

Hello! Welcome back to Kids Get Crafty! I am very excited about today’s post, as it is something I have been wanting to do with my kids since they were born (Yes, that is how “sad” I am) – visit an art gallery and get crafty! Today we went to Tate Britain “quite by accident”. I was supposed to be going to the Natural History Museum with Zoe from Playing by The Book and Natasha from Natasha Worswick. For several reasons we had to cancel. I though we would go anyway, so I called another friend and she suggested The Tate, as they have an “Art Trolley” for kids during the holidays and at weekends. So off we went.

There are several reasons why this Art Trolley is fabulous – it tells you, the parent, that kids are most certainly welcome (very important), it helps you focus on some interesting artwork AND it provides you with some ideas and materials. Perfect.

The Book

Anna's Art Adventure (Picture Books)I know that there is a lot we have missed at the gallery – especially since one our favourite art books is Anna’s Art Adventure – and Tate Britain has housed Duchamp’s Urinal and some Jackson Pollock. Which we didn’t see, but we must go back and investigate, maybe book in hand!

Anna’s Art Adventure,  by Bjorn Sortland – After the success of Katie & The Mona Lisa and the fact that I want to start getting books that Red Ted (3) can grow into, I decided to get hold of Anna’s Art Adventure. When we first opened it, I though 0h-oh – a reasonable amount of text and not your usual “small child friendly” illustrations. However, we sat down to read. I decided to skim over the text and “tell” Red Ted the story as we went along. Starting off with Anna talking to a very kind and old looking Rembrandt then visiting Munch and the very sad van Gogh. On we go through painting after painting, meeting various artists along the way. Surprisingly Red Ted loved it! And asked for me to read it 4 times in a row. It DID help, that Anna had to go to the toilet and was wandering through the paintings to find “Duchamp’s Toilet”. Toilets always grab little people’s attention! Red Ted was particularly curious about Picasso’s Dora Maar Seated and Bread and Fruit Dish on a Table – where everything is “square” and you can see it from all sides at once. He also asked by Andy WooWoo (Andy Warhol) was selling soup on the beach. I was chuffed to bits. The back of the book has extra information on the artist and some of the paintings shown. It is fabulous and I hope that Red Ted will still enjoy it when he is 10! A great reference book for a school art project!

All photos taken on my iphone, so apologies for picture quality!

The Art

Joseph Mallord William Turner Sunrise with Sea Monsters circa 1845
Photo by Tate Britain

We started off with Turner’s Sunrise and Sea Monsters (well, you would, wouldn’t you?).

So.. we took our supplies. We took an activity sheet and off we went to find the painting. The children were very excited and ran off straight away. Once we found it, we spread out on the floor and got crafty. We decided to make some “Sea Monster Puppets”. It was such an incredibly positive experience.

We felt welcomed. We had space. We had time. We got to see some beautiful artwork. We felt creative.


art galleries with kids art galleries with kids

The children really got stuck in. Everyone working on their own pieces. I think “all I did” was cut out the very basic “puppet” shape (to slide a hand into afterwards) and suggested adding little sticker eyes. That was it. The kids did the rest!

art galleries with kids art galleries with kids

art galleries with kids

The Sea Monster Puppets

Aren’t their Sea Monster Puppets just brilliant???

Whilst Red Ted took his time finishing his monster, Pip Squeak and I look at the rest of the Turner paintings. She loved seeing the boats and the water.

We then had a tea and juice break and ate a picnic.

Then we went on to see Julian Trevelyan’s Layered Landscapes  in the Restless Times display. Now the picture in question, we quite liked – a fabulous collage depicting a city scape all made up of rectangles and triangles and newspaper squares. To us it also looks like a little hill in the background and a beach… not sure if that is the case.. but hey, that is what we saw today! Red Ted got stuck in again. And he suprised us all, by first arranging all his “materials”. He then went on to to stick down four pieces of tissue paper in perfect alignment. I confess to being rather proud of his neatness and sense of purpose. He knew exactly where he wanted what. He then added his own layers or circles and triangles. Once home he asked to add some glitter. So we did. Lovely. And thank you, Dear Friend, for indulging in my proud Mummy Moment.

art galleries with kids art galleries with kids

I love the finished “layered” artwork and love that I know how much thought he put into the “order of things”.

As the children were tired by now, we took them to see some installations. Red Ted loved this:

art galleries with kids art galleries with kids

And wants to make something similar out of popsicle sticks. And then we check out the recommended Cerith Wyn Evans’ mirror sculpture. Which totally fascinated them. Perfect.

Red Ted love the Art Trolley ladies so much, we had to go back and show them all his artwork. I was told to go away whilst he showed them all his “stuff”.

Why not check whether the galleries near you run similar art schemes and take your children along?

For more Kid’s Craft ideas, click here for a full list. If you have been crafty with your kid’s be it at home, in the kitchen or outdoors, I would love for you to link up: