We took a bus trip into the city. It was a rather impromptu trip; no real plans, just the excitement of hopping on the bus and riding it into town. Jack knew he wanted to do two things; ride the merry-go-round and eat cupcakes. Beyond that we had no plans.
The bus stop is just outside a beautiful fountain, just beyond that is the Canberra Museum & Gallery (CMAG). While Jack and Sarah bounced happily around the fountain, the CMAG sign, promising me a nice hot chocolate, enticed me in.
I’d heard about CMAG; how some pieces are hung low on the wall so children can enjoy them as well, a few activity tables for children to explore and a welcoming reading nook with beautiful books for the children to read at their leisure. I also noticed a studio with child-sized easels and rows of paint pots…. we’d have to sign up for a class if we wanted to explore in there further. Next time.
This time though we would just have a bit of a wander around. I couldn’t help smiling when, while I was talking to the person at the information desk, I turned around to see that Jack had stacked the child-sized stools, declaring proudly that he too had made a sculpture. I do love his creativity.
Sarah enjoyed the Gathered Together exhibition; drawn in by the bold colours and lines of the Indigenous art. She enjoyed pointing out all the different shapes and finding animals hidden among the paintings.
It was interesting listening to Jack explain what he saw in the paintings (these are very well-known Australian paintings and so I was familiar with them), but they were new to Jack and he saw something very different. He saw the colours and the shapes, the small magpie, the expression on the horse’s face and how he must have felt to be carrying a robot on his back.
I thought about reading the description to him, but as he stood in front of the painting, head cocked to one side, silent, I decided that what he was doing right that very moment was infinitely more important. He was making sense of that painting in his own way, looking at the lines and the colours, taking it all in.
He didn’t need, or want a history lesson on Ned Kelly. Jack wanted to look at that painting and make up his own mind; he didn’t want me telling him what the painting meant, who painted it, what to look for in the painting and what makes it important enough to be hanging in a gallery. He wanted to explain to me what he saw.
We might look at some more Sidney Nolan paintings online, we might even take a trip to the National Gallery where more of Nolan’s iconic Ned Kelly paintings are displayed… we might.
For now though, I have a beautiful memory of a little boy explaining how a man managed to fall into a hole and where a robot with a square head is going on a brown horse.