‘I love coming to the Gallery because we always get to make something’.
Charlie, aged five years

When Charlie visits the Gallery with his family, he encounters works of art and he then spends time talking about what he has seen and sharing ideas with his brother. The Gallery is a special place for Charlie because he uses the artists as inspiration for his own ideas – and he always gets ‘to make something’.

Charlie is merely one of the 45,000 children who visit the Studio each year and while there, in that specially designed space, engage in problem-solving and analytical thinking, experimenting and exercising their imaginations. The Studio is a unique environment for children (and adults) of all ages, a place to build confidence and gain a stronger sense of the relevance of cultural institutions to their lives. The experience of making and responding to art embeds the Gallery experience in the hearts and minds of young visitors; for them the Art Gallery of South Australia becomes a place for everyone and one they will continue to visit well into adulthood.

The activities designed for the Studio encourage children to look at problems, and often the works of art operate as an apt segue to other learning areas. The Erub Studio in 2017–18 is a prime example of this: here students were encouraged to contemplate their environmental footprint and consider solutions to problems impacting on Australia’s ecosystem.

The Studio is a welcoming place – children are invited to share their experiences and engage in dialogue about the works of art they have seen. This time of reflection and discussion awakens their imagination, and they are inspired by the artists. The freedom the Studio offers them enables their ideas and stories to be transformed into works of art and these will take pride of place on the Studio collaborative wall, for all to see.

Kylie is Education Officer at AGSA, a position supported by the Government of South Australia through the Department for Education. This article first appeared in AGSA Magazine Issue 31, 2018.