Tide and Seek | An early years project

Tide and Seek, was a series of specifically curated workshops by myself and Bethan Peters for Turner Contemporary’s Early Years Commission project.

The project involved local families and explored themes of seaside, home and family, through outdoor creative exploration and indoor sensory workshops – with dance, play and connection central to the work.

Through guided play we invited participants to make connections to their environment by exploring, looking and moving in new ways which challenged their habitual patterns and preferences.

We explored activities that allowed families a collaborative agency, offering opportunities for non-hierarchical learning and exchange between parent/carer and child.

By engaging with contrasting states associated either with childhood or adulthood, such as work and play, curiosity and indifference, discovery and rediscovery, we aimed to explore what happens when these opposing binaries creatively collide. A workshop for families essentially led by children.

Why is this project relevant?

As artist collaborators, our practice is rooted in the power of play and the relationship between people, identity and place. As dance artists, we work across disciplines, generations and mainly in outdoor spaces – coincidentally this is our second coastal collaboration – and there is always a choreographic element to our work.

This project is particularly relevant, as research shows that play and dynamic movement between parent and child, can facilitate cognitive and emotional awareness of self and environment. This relationship and potential for learning when parent and child connect through movement is a key driver in the development of this work, with the coast being a rich and diverse environment to explore.

With Margate and Turner Contemporary as our backdrop, it wasn’t difficult to begin to develop a series of sessions identifying with different themes each week. Yet while the seaside is somewhat famed for being a place of leisure, holidays and icecreams on the beach, life by the coast can also be full of isolation, with high levels of social and economic deprivation recorded in coastal towns.

While this issue is impossible to tackle with the arts alone, we hope that the workshop series provide(s)d space for participants to play together whilst exploring their home towns with new found appreciation and curiosity.

This project aims to develop a workshop framework for Early Years provisions to be able to adapt to use with families who live in coastal towns.