On a break from swimming (as per school holidays) we spent last Friday at the NGV on St Kilda Road. It was perfect timing as it was the start of the NGV Summer Children’s Festival and I had also been wanting to see the Express Yourself: Romance Was Born for Kids exhibit, curated and designed by the Sydney based fashion designers who are known for their creative use of colour and pattern.
We arrived at 10am to meet up with my friend Annette and her two kids and we had an awesome day. There were specific kids workshops from 10am-2pm and it was all free. To quote Annette ‘It’s so much better than a play centre!’ and she’s spot on.
The Great Hall was set up with three separate workshop areas. First we stopped at the Romance Was Born colouring station. There were printed sheets of Australian animals with sets of pencils and sharpeners ready to design/draw accessories for the koalas, possums, emu and our favourite – the frilled neck lizard.
Next up were temporary tattoos created by Jean Paul Gaultier’s design team. These were very cool as us big kids got to have one too, a definite highlight for me, ha!
Last but not least was the Paper Threads station where you could design and make accessories for your teddy. Run by Meetoo and Tiny & Little, this was a hoot. There were pipe cleaners, feathers, crepe paper, glue, scissors, staplers and some very cool animal print patterned paper. Although we forgot to bring a teddy along (oops!), we made a pretty crazy wand for one of the teddies on hand. There was even a red carpet booth (complete with gold sequined backdrop) for teddy to be photographed with our fabulous wand.
It was now time to express ourselves within the Romance Was Born for Kids exhibit. What an incredibly inspiring installation, a visual feast for our eyes. I LOVED this space and I could see Ava’s eyes light up as she explored the different zones. Not only was it visually awesome, the activities were brilliant and so varied. There were two digital interactive zones – one with touchscreens to create your own masterpiece (which you could email to yourself once complete) and an interactive floor projection waterscape where you could jump on rainbow fish and lily pads and feel like you were walking on water.
In the next room was our favourite part, where you could create your own necklace or beard using beautifully designed paper cut outs. The designs were typical of the Romance Was Born style – an overload of colour, pattern and fun. We sat at mirrored workstations (surrounded by lights and styled to look like a backstage dressing room) and made a gorgeous necklace – adding jewels, pom poms and googly eyes to make it our own. There were costumes, old school toys from the 80s, framed Australiana prints and the most amazing wallpaper on every surface.
I can’t speak highly enough of this exhibit and we will definitely be back to experience it all over again. If you like bright colours, graphic patterns and fashion, this show is an absolute MUST. It’s on until April but don’t leave it too late.
After all of that we decided to wind down on Carsten Holler’s Golden Mirror Carousel. It was only a week ago that we first experienced it and it was even better the second time around. It wasn’t very busy so we were able to go around three times (thanks to the lovely NGV staff member who smiled at Ava and suggested we could have more than one turn). What a lovely way to end a brilliant day.
All in all, we spent 4.5 hours there and could easily have stayed longer. It won’t be the last time we head to the NGV for Friday fun.
PS – If you’re wondering what that strange looking ‘nest’ thing is, it’s The Island Bird’ by Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto. A very cool (and kinda crazy) installation not to be missed!