University of Cambridge > > Arts, Culture and Education > Children take the Lead. Which way to go? What does it mean? What if I don’t like it or understand?

Children take the Lead. Which way to go? What does it mean? What if I don’t like it or understand?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ewa Illakowicz.

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Visiting contemporary art galleries can be difficult especially if you feel you ought to understand or like what you’re looking at.

Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI) believe that children engage more confidently and creatively than many adults even with the most difficult spaces and ideas. Children have a generosity and excitement towards the new and unknown that we as adults are often less comfortable with. We therefore initiated the innovative Children Take the Lead project, which set out to learn from children how to engage theirs and other families with contemporary art.

Children Take the Lead follows the children’s ideas, works with the whole family together, uses open ended play as a way of breaking down barriers and facilitating new ways of introducing unfamiliar audiences to contemporary art. It aims to develop resources that enable families to explore and discover for themselves in ways that are inspiring and engaging for everyone.

This presentation will explore the project to date, offering accounts of how children and families have responded to visiting Kettle’s Yard House and Gallery, the prototype Props Box that has been developed to support future visitors and next steps for the research.

My daughter wanted to go round all of them and repeat it. It was such a strong tool. We shared really complex conversations.


Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI) is an innovative arts charity that works with organisations and people seeking to develop closer relationships with their communities. It has worked in businesses, schools, hospitals, nurseries, museums, galleries, forests, parks, gardens, and other community settings. CCI ’s Director, Ruth Sapsed is responsible for the strategic direction of the organisation. As a psychologist and researcher, she is interested in facilitating the development of creativity in everyone, young and old. Recent publications include Igniting a Fuse and Exploring a Cambridge Forest. Ruth has been working with artists and schools for much of her professional life. She has been connected with the Faculty for a number of years through developing programmes for Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination with her colleagues Pam Burnard, Mandy Swann and Mary Jane Drummond. In 2011, she became coordinator of the Leadership for Learning network based at the Faculty.

This talk is part of the Arts, Culture and Education series.

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