As part of our Motherland Creates series, we speak to the founders of PATTERNITY about how the traditional craft of marbling can be used to help unleash playful creativity and ‘flow’ within childreN
charlotte rivers for motherland
Billed as the ‘world’s leading specialist organisation dedicated solely to pattern’ PATTERNITY began its journey as an online pattern image archive in 2009. Fast forward to today and it is now home to a pattern research consultancy, an award-winning creative studio, and a busy events and education hub. Founded by photographer and art director Anna Murray, and surface and product designer Grace Winteringham, PATTERNITY’S projects are driven by the core belief that a shared engagement with pattern can have positive and powerful results. Having run a series of successful pattern focussed events in 2013 the PATTERNITEAM will hold their first kids workshop at Ace Hotel in Shoreditch next week as part of the wider Find Your Flow event, which focuses on exploring the positive power of ‘flow’. ..
Tell us about the idea behind Mindful Marbling for Kids?
Anna: We’ve been working on events for adults for several years now but for us pattern is something so positive and inspiring that we wanted to be able to share some of our workshops with children, to see how they respond. Mindfulness is fundamentally about bringing your attention to the present moment, something that can often be hard to achieve in our present culture, and something that is important for children. The marbling aspect came about as we really wanted to visualise the idea of ‘flow’ and flow states – where we lose all concept of time as we fully embrace the present moment. The technique so perfectly encapsulates the notion of ‘the now’, and also ticks our other important box of working with pattern to learn about traditional crafts and techniques. It’s also super democratic, and you don’t have to consider yourself creative to create beautiful artworks to take home and enjoy.
What will the day involve?
Anna: The day will start with a short talk and an introduction to mindfulness exercise by our friend, clinical psychologist, collaborator and mindfulness practitioner Dr Elsie Parker. She will explore how awareness of the invisible patterns that shape our lives can enhance our wellbeing. We will then go into the pattern immersion where the PATTERNITY Studio will show a short presentation of inspiring visuals before we then explore the marbling patterns of the world and begin to create our own artworks. We will be using traditional techniques and materials. We will then finish with a sharing exercise to talk about how the workshop made us feel and marvel at our magnificent marbled artworks.
Zeno Citium said that “Happiness is a good flow of life”, why do you think it’s so important for us to have ‘flow’ in our life?
Anna: So much of our lives is rigid, structured and controlled these days. We’re living in a time where we’re deluged by information and choice and bombarded by endless notifications. Finding more flow – whether that’s through embracing a new craft, playing with children or pets, listening to beautiful music or immersing ourselves in nature – whatever it is, it can help us find more harmony and balance in our day to day life. To us finding more flow is about letting go, surrendering to life’s unpredictability and tuning in to what makes our hearts truly sing.
Why is ‘flow’ especially important for kids?
Grace: It’s not news to us that the majority of young people spend more time looking at screens than any other activity, so we feel it’s really important that children have the opportunity to get hands-on with being creative and connect their brains with their hands in more ways than just a scroll or a ‘like’. Often the perception of being creative in schools is whether you are good at drawing – which is a shame as creativity goes way beyond this. Our workshops are about being present and connecting to making. There is no right or wrong way to create these pieces in our workshops, the focus is on inspiring, implementing and enjoying creativity.
What is your view on the kids screen time vs outdoor / art / creative time debate?
Anna: It’s always a tricky subject this one but it’s so interesting. Like most things in life it is fundamentally about finding balance and in this case being fully conscious about our habits. We’re living through such a fascinating juxtaposition, right in the midst of the information age, so to defy that would seem at odds with where we are at in a point of human evolution.
The increasing drive to switch off though feels like a direct antidote to always being connected. That’s exactly why I personally love attending our events so much, they force me to step away from my screen and really engage with something in a real, hands-on and human way for at least one, or maybe two hours at a time. It’s quite rare that we get that opportunity these days to engage our inner creative and dig that bit deeper into ourselves.
It sounds amazing, are there any other PATTERNITY kids workshops planned for the future?
Grace: We very much see this first event as a bit of an experiment to see if our community will bring their children to a PATTERNITY event. In the future we’d love to work with institutions to run a series of workshops that explore creativity and life sciences that are simple and fun for children, and we’re always looking for interesting partners to collaborate with on events. Our long term goal is to have a large cultural educational centre.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT PATTERNITY