Concept research

‘You cannot create when you are in survival mode’. I’m not sure…

As a result of living under conditions that resulted in a constant hyper alert state, described correctly by the artist Elka Kazmierczak as ‘intimate emotional terrorism’, creating output was dangerous. However, what I would do was determinedly find something out in the world that I could store away in my internal image bank as ‘beautiful’. I knew I had to find this each day to point out to my children. I knew it was a matter or soul survival. Sometimes I had to be very creative finding creative input. But I learnt to look very very closely and to notice real minutiae. I honestly believe that is what stopped me from being pushed right over the edge. I talk about this because my story is not unique. Sadly. I talk about this because my healing necessitates finding simple joy again.

I can find beauty and value, but being able to live lightly enough for gentle joy… that is why I am trying to rediscover the simplicity and flow of play. This course is healing because I am learning to play.

The notion of play is critical to human development. The social reformer Eglantyne Jebb founded the charity Save the Children. I remember reading, a long time ago, that in her first job as a primary teacher in a working-class school (that she hated) she had been shocked at the war games that the children were playing. She is to be credited with developing Rights for Children that later became adopted by the UN as the Convention on the Rights for Children, listed in Bibliography below:

The CRC Article 31 states that the child has the inherent right to “rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.” This right to play is reinforced in the next article concerning child labor practices. Appropriate work for children to assist their families is allowed in Article 32 as long as it doesn’t risk their health, education, or the right to relaxation and play. Thus the international community recognizes the importance of play for the optimal development of children and protects that right by law.

Although the right to play is protected by law, what facilities are provided for play? What play is encouraged? What free participation in ‘cultural life and the arts’ is made available for ALL children? (I am reigning my soap box moment in).

My mind turns to the children of Syria.

It feels very self-indulgent to be concerned in my own rediscovery of play and joy. But if I am not healed from my own hurt, I cannot be fully present to help another.

Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.”
Friedrich Froebel.

Friedrich Froebel invented the kindergarten. There is an excellent biography here. His demand for ‘play’ as essential to the well being of the whole child was revolutionary in his time. I worry that his concern is critical again today when play is seen as ‘extra’. I completed my teaching qualification at Froebel College  because the Freobelian Principles speak straight to the heart of me: ‘Through their play, supported by adults, children tease out and explore situations. Children become increasingly abstract, imaginative, symbolic and creative thinkers.’

I had tried to hold my day job separate from this course.

I find that all my beliefs and philosophies and healing and passions are like the fabric of a basket, they wind over and under each other to form a structure. Now it is important that I consider what I put in this basket and where I take it. This course and my learning with textiles is bringing everything into play.

I think there is more under the surface than a simple interest in play and creating a surface envisaged as a stage or playground. I’ll just send the net out and see what it catches.

War Child Holland publishes an important article here, from which i get my final quote:

‘We can make up for losing a year of studying, but we can’t make up for years of lost childhood because we couldn’t play.’ Zeenab 11


Bibliography: (pg 30)

“Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. < > 21 March 2012.