Gayle Chong Kwan, 2020
Younger parents and artist Gayle Chong Kwan explore creative ways to take care of our mind and body and confidently use our voices in the world.
Many young people balance busy lives and do not often take time out for themselves to have fun, catch up with friends and focus on their wellbeing.
In a children’s centre with professional nursery staff supporting the sessions, Gayle Chong Kwan created a space for young people to unwind, relax, be creative and enjoy getting to know each other. Together they created objects using sewing, manipluating clay and building structures. The experience of being a parent connected the group, including Gayle, and led to new conversations and friendships.
"I was impressed by how the participants responded so well to the different creative activities we did during the sessions; lino printing, clay sculpture, cyanotype photographs, body shape casting in foil, sewing, and how they brought the own creativity, their relationship with their children, and how they might develop their own 'space' in terms of physical space, psychological space, and creative space to the session. They each spoke about creative activities they enjoyed at school and remembered things that they loved doing, but either they had not done for a while or were usually too busy to do. Each said that having the time to themselves, having a kind of permission to spend time on making things and experimenting with tactile (non-digital and not screen-based) activities in a creative and supportive environment was hugely welcome." (Gayle Chong Kwan)
"She was a little reluctant when initially informed of the club. However, in spite of the reluctance expressed at the start, she dived into the activities and did not need much assistance. It became very clear that having a creative outlet was important for her in managing her moods and owning her own identity outside of motherhood. She recognised that creativity is very important to her and was able to recognise her talents and the importance of having a good support system to continue developing her creative interests. I think it was a great opportunity for those who are unable to find childcare to be able to take part in these kinds of activities. While their children are close by, the young people are still able to enjoy some ‘me time’ knowing that their little ones are happy and content while they enjoy the session and get to try out new ways to be creative. The preparation was well thought out and covered every detail and it was lovely to be included in the planning." (Leaving Care Advisor)
"I really enjoyed the sessions. I was able to go along to both sessions and was provided transport to get there which was great. I was a little nervous when I first got there but was put at ease and felt really welcomed into the group. I liked that they included everyone, and no one felt left out. The teacher would involve us all and they also sorted lunch out too – with Deliveroo. I took a picture of the clay and sent it to my LCA. I think it would be good if there were more sessions like this and were more available. It feels like a long time ago that I went to this and it is a shame they are not more often as I would take part again." (Participant)
Gayle Chong Kwan
Gayle Chong Kwan creates large-scale environments and photographs created out of waste products, found materials and documentary sources and often sited in the public realm. She develops her work through processes which can involve sensory activities, participation, and historical or archaeological inquiry, to create settings or props through which more fantastical experiences or re-visioning can happen. Sites for her projects, commissions and exhibitions have included the Southbank Centre, Bloomberg Space, The Wellcome Trust, Venice Biennale, Street Level Photoworks, Iniva, Centro Cultural de Moravia and 10th Havana Biennial.