I am working on a new visual art programme for children on the theme of astronomy. I’ve always been fascinated by the working of the planets and for years I have run an art programme for adults titled “The Sky Within”. As the title suggests it dealt more with the inner cosmos than the outer one.
With this current programme I am turning my gaze outwards and upwards but first I have to admit that I am very weak on scientific studies or maths and have felt a discomfort with these subjects since my early school days.
So I have decided that I need to get up to speed with the recent astronomy related discoveries and for this I’ve set aside chunks of time to read and research. As a consequence my regular visits to art galleries have temporarily been replaced with visits to observatories, choir practices with astronomy courses and period-drama television binges with sci-fi series. But the more I learn the more the task looks daunting.
What I am discovering about the immensity of the universe – which so far had been con ned more or less to the patch of sky above my head – feels positively overwhelming as everything, from the number of planets to the distances between them seems to be measured with a minimum of 7 digit numbers.
I am also starting to feel a bit anxious while I keep wondering how best to convey to the children this sense of awe and wonder that I am feeling so that in turn they can be inspired to explore and express their own emotions through art.
Fortunately a lot of material has been published on the workings of the universe to help me with the task. I found the facts and figures on the NASA’s website for children and information on life as an astronaut in countless videos. I am researching how modern and contemporary artists have expressed their take on the subject and bought some beautifully illustrated books for children (and that’s where all my pocket money is going!).
My favourite book so far is “Armstrong, The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon” by author and superb illustrator Torben Kuhlmann. The story is an imaginative retelling of the first journey to the moon “where dreams are determined only by the size of one’s imagination and the biggest innovators are the smallest of all.”
Encouraged by these words and possibly as a consequence of my star-gazing activity I am also considering new directions in my work and for this I need some time out.
I am waiting to see what the Universe delivers while I have my eyes on the stars…