Making memories that sparkle! A creative day with Darlington Virtual School

Before Christmas, Blue Cabin with Darlington Virtual School organised a trip to Theatre Hullaballoo in Darlington for care-experienced children.

By experiencing the arts, in the form of a theatre performance and creative activities, the aim was to help children make memories and build bonds with their key adults. This is central to the ethos of Blue Cabin’s working.

They saw a performance of Mavis Sparkle, an inspirational story about a cleaner with a dream, her hedgehog friend and a trolley full of magic. Her aim was to “inspire us all to be brave, dust away doubts and reach for the stars!”*

Our creative activities were very much inspired by the show and featured shiny stars, Spike the hedgehog, a magic hat, the cuckoo and a pop-up ‘cuckoo clock’ house.

Oh, and there were feathers, lots of feathers! In our extension of the story, the hedgehog was playing with Mavis’ feather duster to make colourful texture prints.

As a printmaker, I support people in experiencing the magic of making prints using vibrant inks and a traditional printing press. The aim is always to help them achieve, take on ownership of their image-making and have fun. And to make beautiful pictures for them to take home.

Everyone loved rolling out the colourful blends of sticky ink. Then they composed a picture using their decorated shapes. The inky templates, covered with paper, disappeared under the blanket, the handles were turned and there was a magical reveal with the lift of blanket and paper at the other side.

The children were encouraged to take on authorship of their own prints, inspired by Mavis Sparkle, by choosing which templates to use and decorating these. They assembled their shapes to create a playful, visual story. Each was different, with distinctive mark-making and a unique composition.

It was a joy to work as a team alongside lovely Blue Cabin folk, Lucy and Amy, together with staff from Darlington Virtual School. We had a  lively session, making prints, decorating 3D cardboard houses, paper bags and cards. We printed and created throughout the afternoon.

The children’s creations were carefully mounted and wrapped to take home. The paper houses, complete with an extra secret Santa gift, were all sparkly and ready to hang on their Christmas tree.

And the carers enjoyed participating too, in supporting their children and in making their own paper houses. For one family group, where the children were in a new foster home, this really helped them in building a relationship with their carer.

It was clear that everyone enjoyed their creative day, working together, having fun (and hot chocolate!) and chatting. As we know from all of Blue Cabin’s projects, immersion in arts activities plays a vital role in

building bonds between children and their key adults. Our sparkly time, inspired by Mavis and her hedgehog, were no exception!

Michelle Wood, Sea Tern Print