but is it art?

Kids all access… The Tate Modern

Posted on Jun 28, 2013 | 4 comments

Kids all access… The Tate Modern

The Tate Modern art gallery is an ex-power plant. It is the most visited art gallery in Britain, by people of all ages. And, of all the art galleries, it really is perfect for families. Its cavernous rooms are easily negotiated by a stroller or wheelchair. There are numerous lifts and disabled toilets on every floor. High ceilings swallow up both screaming children and parents yelling, “Don’t touch… oh no, too late.” Of course, being an art gallery, some people may not be as eager for your children to race around the gallery space. (What do they know?) These people generally fall into two categories: Type 1: “Unlike me and my fellow art aficionados – all wearing tight, black clothing draped with scarves – your child can’t possibly appreciate high art.” Type 2: “What is that pretentious mother thinking? She must actually believe her child can appreciate this high art!” However, the Tate Modern itself does not feel this way. They run children specific workshops and activities. And, their Open Studio for children gives them the opportunity to test out their talents. The greatest delight of the Tate Modern is how stimulating it is for children with special needs. The enormous canvases painted with bold, primary colors and placed on white plain walls aid the visual experience for children like May, with cognitive visual impairments. But, as a modern art gallery, they also showcase art that covering sound and performance. Their Turbine Hall is famous for its extravagant pieces. May and I attended one where the artist filled the floor of the hall with millions of crafted, porcelain sunflower seeds. Attendees were encouraged to stroll and sit and disturb the seeds in any way they choose. May lay on them. She kicked them. She leaned on them and buried her toes in them. Far from pretentious, the Tate Modern is a delight. And, it is located right on the River Thames, and the start of the (also entirely accessible) Millennium Bridge crossing to St. Paul’s Cathedral. For more about visiting The Tate Modern if your child has a disability, their web site provides  disabled access information. And, check out their Touch Tour for the visually impaired. _____ Kids all access… is a new series on Mama Lewis to open up London’s biggest attractions to families with disabled children. Read Kids all access… Kew Gardens for another wonderful day out. If you have any ideas for the series, please comment below or email me at contact@stacielewis.com. Read more about May’s excursions at The Tate Modern: This week… I’m going places May and Mama’s adventures in Modern Art And yes, this post was a bit of a distraction from all the hoopla of recent...

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NOW that’s what I call music! 3 1/2 years old

Posted on Apr 12, 2013 | 1 comment

NOW that’s what I call music! 3 1/2 years old

May – the anti-establishment, punk, performance artist that she is – has broadened her taste in music since last year’s introductory NOW that’s what I call music! 2 1/2. A bit of gangsta rap? Yes, please! says May. And, okay – it may be true that she has better taste in music than her mama. But, I’m 40 years old now. It is completely against my decade to try new things. May enjoys a good tune (see I can’t even sound cool when I write about it. You should see me dance – it’s like a crocodile being wrestled to the ground.). Yesterday, as we drove home from visiting friends, my husband delighted May by playing her all kinds of music she knew, but I had never heard of. (Click to enlarge photos of May yesterday!) Here is a selection of her favorites with links so you can listen along: Shakleton, Music for Quiet Hour (album and title song) Avante Garde Dub Step with spoken word science fiction poetry. Again, her father’s influence in case you had your doubts. May particularly enjoys the strange bass sounds like a plastic bucket filling up with water. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Murder Ballads (album) Murder ballads. Even May needs something light for the weekend. Bob Dylan, Highway 61 – May’s favorite singer. Dylan’s out of tune, nasal whine appeals to her dissonant sensibility. Oh, and she loves a harmonica. Brian Eno, Discrete Music – May appreciates this deconstruction of Canon in D major by Johan Pachelbel. Eno is a master experimenter of ambient sounds. May hopes, but fears this is too challenging for the London Symphony Orchestra Family Concerts she enjoys. David Bowie – deserves his own post (SIDE NOTE: My husband and I went to the exhibit at the V&A about Bowie in London. In a word: dull. In several words: really, really dull. We didn’t take May. She would have been very disappointed. It wasn’t art.) Got a favorite tune you think May would like? Leave a link to it in the comments section and we will let you know what she thinks! *          *           * Like what you read here? Nominate my post of May’s first time in a walking frame for the BritMums keynote address. If I’m shortlisted, I would have the opportunity to share May’s inspirational first steps with a wider audience. No registration required and it only will take 30 seconds. Here’s where you do the nominating: NOMINATION FORM And, here is the web address of the post to nominate: http://www.mamalewis.com/2013/02/28/02282013-by-popular-request-mays-first-steps-again/...

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Yes, May, but is it art? The London Symphony Orchestra EDITION

Posted on Apr 6, 2012 | 2 comments

Yes, May, but is it art? The London Symphony Orchestra EDITION

May’s gone all high-brow on us. This wasn’t her first time at the Barbican. We also took her to see an exhibit where little birdies flew around and landed on instruments. May, are little birdies landing on instruments art? No. Categorically no. I thought she’d love it, but she was rather bored and finally we just left and had a snooze in the lobby (see photo, circa 2009). We love the Barbican. And – you may have heard – May LOVES music. And, so, we returned for the Family Concert this Mother’s Day. (Sorry, I’m a bit behind the times here. I blame a lack of sleep and way too many appointments.) SIDE NOTE: The Barbican is entirely accessible to the physically disabled. We had tons of room for May’s buggy in our row. There were lifts. Electronic doors. Okay, so I love the Barbican. But, who cares what I think?  Let’s set the scene. We enter the orchestra hall. Every seat is a winner – the hall is cavernous and still feels intimate. They leave the lights up so that we may all see each other. The orchestra are already sitting on stage, some with their children by their side. There is all kinds of noise: instruments being tuned, children screaming, the rattling of bags, parents talking across the rows to one another. There is no cue. A conductor walks out and establishes himself on his podium. The audience goes completely quiet with anticipation and a note is struck! May goes insane! She is straddling my leg and her legs go a million miles an hour. She hollers with glee, hysterical laughter rippling from her. Bounce, bounce, bounce!!! No one cares about May’s exclamation – unless you count the elderly couple sitting next to us who spent the remainder of the concert watching May with massive grins on their faces. The place is full of children, some of them bouncing up and down as vigorously as May. It is impossible to explain exactly how much May loved The London Symphony Orchestra. May loves music. She loves bouncing. All right, already! Yes, May, but is it art? 100% yes! Bouncebouncebounce! Congratulations to The London Symphony Orchestra, you made May very happy that day. You should feel proud. It was one of the greatest experiences of my parenting life. Allow me to be the London Symphony Orchestra Ambassador for the moment. GO SEE THEM! It was not pretentious in the least and a performer on stage explained everything to the audience in a very engaging manner. Noise/music is encouraged! Children bring in their own instruments and play along. The London Symphony Orchestra perform twice in the next two months for children: Friday, May 11 – Concert for under-5s Sunday, June 24 – Family...

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NOW That’s What I Call Music! 2 1/2 (VIDEO)

Posted on Dec 18, 2011 | 3 comments

NOW That’s What I Call Music! 2 1/2 (VIDEO)

Throw away your mass market trash, people. May has compiled her own list of essential tunes. Top hits from the past year. Listen and learn: 1. Happy Birthday – This track is a classic! I bet you thought it was just for birthdays? Nah-uh. 2. ABCs – Another classic that’s also not just for birthdays. This tune stopped May’s seizures when seizures were king. 3. David Bowie – too many to mention. Needs a whole post. 4. Andrea Bocelli – I don’t get this one, but May’s Nana swears it’s true. 5. The telephone ringing – technically not a song And now, May’s Daddy finishes this post with actual songs, real songs, that May loves: 6. Brian Eno ‘Julia With‘ – May likes to relax in the bath to this slice of proto-ambient music. And, she likes the plinky piano and the funny backwards running sounds too. 7. The Bug ft. Ricky Rankin ‘Murder We‘ – The deep dubby reverb of this angry meditation on urban violence in London thrills May in a way that is echoed by the hard-hitting message of Ricky Rankin: “Remember, war is not the answer/Only love can conquer hate.” She also loves the bell chimes and squeaks. 8. Frankie Goes to Hollywood ‘Welcome to the Pleasure Dome‘ – Trevor Horn may have been the uncredited sixth member of FGTH, but May has always appreciated the opening of this artsy 13-minute masterpiece, with its cries of tropical birds and rainforest sounds to a jungle beat. “The animals are winding me up!” indeed, Holly Johnson! Finally… some really good tunes to close out NOW That’s What I Call Music! 2 1/2 – but using a video from 1 1/2 (Same day as the photo taken above… that’s my nephew Connor peeking in from the side. Hi...

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Yes May, but are plants art?

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 | 2 comments

Yes May, but are plants art?

I love Kew Gardens. The Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew are wondrous – a playground for the imagination. There are plants with leaves that stretch longer than your body. Trees whose branches form a dark cave to hide within. Swirling trails leading to where? Who knows? Kew is a place to get lost in. It is totally immersing. Kew is a rare jewel for disabled people and I see loads of them every time I go. You could walk around the grounds for hours and never get caught out because your wheelchair couldn’t manage it; the gardens are almost entirely flat and the paths well maintained. It is also completely accessible. I say completely though, even with all my visits, I still have not seen everything so I don’t know how accessible every building is. If that didn’t convince you, in one rare positive of May’s disability, May gets in for FREE (because she is under-16) and I get in for FREE as her carer. If you are caring for someone who is disabled – go now. Right now. Stop whatever you are doing and pack up the car. Treat yourself. You deserve it. Okay, so we’ve established that I love Kew Gardens. What of the art? Kew has an art collection and outside installations like Tom Hare’s Willow Sculptures. Hare’s sculptures are magnificent, woven, willow representations of tiny seeds. By magnifying the seeds hundreds of times larger than they actually are, Hare allows us the kind of close inspection Jonathan Swift would be proud of. They are playful, while at the same time extraordinarily bizarre and creepy. Here’s the thing. I take May to see a lot of art; well, a lot of art for a toddler. Much of what we see is big and bold because I want May to engage visually with the work. But, she doesn’t. At least not in a striking way that I can perceive. But, I also hope that she takes in some of what she sees, and maybe it just won’t be evident until she is older. One day, maybe she will see better and it will be down to a collection of moments like this. You never know. This time was different. Hare’s sculptures are hard to miss. They enormous and also they are all one color and that color is dark brown. Each is set a great distance from anything else, so there is nothing else in May’s field of vision to distract her. All these things work in May’s favor. But, who cares what I think. May? What do you think? Sure you like Kew, but are the Willow Sculptures art? Kick! Kick! Kick! And, some concentrated gazes. Definitely interested… “Yes,” says May, “it is art!”* *May believes that any atheistic form that transform the world of the viewer, is equal to the claims of art. (Or, at least that’s what my husband said, she told him.) ________________________ Read how I felt about visiting May’s new special school today on BabyCenter’s...

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