When Nel walked into the studio pushing cartloads of drawings, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. We had been speaking about this installation for a while and I knew that Nel had a fondness for children’s drawings. I had also seen how he had filled one of his walls at home with some of his favorites. But I wan’t too sure about how he wanted to show his collection off.

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During the 2 weeks preceding the hanging of the pictures, we had many discussions ahead of anticipating how these drawings, collected through art and craft lessons, could be used to inspire even more children’s drawings. What I enjoyed most was Nel’s naïve enthusiasm about each of the drawings. As he was be sorting through his piles of drawings, he would suddenly call out: “Look at this one! Look at that detail in the corner”, “What do you think the he meant in this drawing?” or “Look at how she drew this elephant”. Strictly no judgement means that every single drawing that passes through Nel’s hands has a chance to be looked at again, and marvelled at.

We wondered if it would be possible to sort out which drawings had been made by boys and which by girls. We agreed that while we often can, we could also be wrong, and sometimes there is no way of knowing – as expected the stereotypes often work but are not foolproof. We could also easily detect the young artists from the older ones – but many in the middle left us confused too. Nel had stories for many of the drawings, reminiscing how they had been drawn or the stories that went with them. In the end, the pictures were sorted by categories, and hung up accordingly.

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They were hung on the walls, but also the ceilings, the door and the window!

And with that – we were ready for the visitors!

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We had prepared a booklet of challenges – in case walking into such a full room would leave the visitors intimidated and overwhelmed. There were details to look for, and specific drawings to decipher. Visitors were asked to look for their portrait from the wall, many of them finding the picture spot on!

The small visitors came from Blue House pre-school and then from La Petite Ecole, with their teachers. Some came after school, with their parents. Usually, they were awed by the pictures: “Oh look, even on the ceiling!”. It usually took a while for them to finally look at individual pictures, and finally to realise there was an order to how the pictures were placed. Some children took their drawings home, while others insisted on sticking theirs among the exhibition.

We had questions for them:

– “Who did the drawings?” -“Children! Because children can draw!”

-“How do you know it’s an elephant?” – “It’s got a trunk!” -“And this one?” -“It’s a mouse, with a sock in front”.

-“Oh look, they are all tigers here, and fish on the ceiling”.

Adult visitors came too, curious to see children’s pictures and ready to discuss. The main question was: How do you draw like a child?

We were ready to discuss, with my own Picasso/child drawing installation for taller people to engage with. We collected many “children’s drawings” from adult visitors and many stories / memories from parents reminiscing about their own children’s drawing period.

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It was an interesting exhibition that seemed to get the public engaged in different ways. And then, we asked visitors how many pictures they estimated were pasted in the room and how many were in the box. Answered varied widely, depending on the age of the person answering – from 100 to 100 millions! The actual answer?

There were 2261 pieces pasted in the studio.

There were 8000 pieces in the box (estimate).

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Did you get the number right? Come claim your gift! (A children’s drawing).

And don’t forget to check Nel’s Instagram as nelysl and do checkout our hashtag #manymanyanyhowanyhow to see all the pictures!

 

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