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CMAG for kids: Afternoon workshops

Alexandra Tolmie

Last week, Alex Tolmie visited the Canberra Museum and Gallery with her (almost) four year old for an afternoon workshop exploring ceramics and culminating in a clay tile-making activity. She had such a great time she couldn’t believe she had never been before.

Walking in to the Canberra Museum and Art Gallery (CMAG) on a typically freezing Canberra day with my child resembling a marshmallow, I was struck by how warm and inviting the place is. I’m ashamed to admit that I’d never set foot in there before, although I’d passed by many times on my way to see a show at the Canberra Theatre Centre. I will certainly be returning soon to explore CMAG and its exhibitions in more depth.

CMAG opened in 1998 and has become an integral part of Canberra’s art gallery and museum scene. It is conveniently located in the city centre, making it super accessible for tourists and families alike. The museum primarily features a strong and engaging collection of artworks and museum objects relating to the Canberra region.

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I was there with Miss (almost) Four to take part in Ceramic Sunday with local artist Jacqueline Bradley as part of the museum’s CMAG on Sunday series, an educational program for four to 12 year olds. Designed as interactive experiences, their kid-friendly workshops offer a wide range of learning experiences with an emphasis on art and history.

As soon as we walked in we were warmly welcomed and introduced to Jac, who talked animatedly with the children about clay and patterns. Jac is a natural teacher, quickly building rapport with the children and fielding a wide range of questions and the usual non-sequiturs. She took us into the gallery to investigate a range of ceramics and find patterns, and my small child had just as much fun with this as the bigger kids.

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The most exciting part of the workshop was the tile-making activity. The children were each given a slab of clay to roll out and decorate using a range of materials to create patterns and designs. It was lovely seeing all the children so absorbed and interested in the process. The finished products were all collected to be fired in a kiln by a local ceramicist and will ultimately be returned to the children as hardened tiles.

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After the workshop, Miss (almost) Four took full advantage of CMAG’s excellent activity table and reading nook, which are permanently available to entertain small people visiting the museum.

Upcoming CMAG on Sunday sessions include Warp and Weft on 2 August and a Book Week Special, Books light up our world on 23 August. CMAG is also running some ‘Clay Play’ drop-in sessions during the school holidays on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 July from 10am to 1pm for five to 12 year olds.

The essentials

What: CMAG on Sunday – art workshops for children aged 4 to 12 years
Where: Canberra Museum and Art Gallery, London Circuit, Canberra
When: Sunday 2 August and Sunday 23 August (bookings essential) 12.30pm-1.30pm and 1.30pm-2.30 pm (four to 8 years) and 2.30pm-3.30pm (eight to 12 years) or school holiday ‘Clay Play’ drop-in sessions on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 July from 10am-1pm (five to 12 years)
How much: $5 per child (ACT M&G members and eligible concession card holders free)
Web: www.museumsandgalleries.act.gov.au

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Alex Tolmie

Alex is the founder and co-chair of the Department of Education and Training Women's Network and a mum of two gorgeous little girls. She has overcome big challenges as a new mother and now loves to help others become confident, joyful mamas themselves. She blogs about her experience at draxela.com More about the Author

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