Hastings Art Gallery announces hands-on and creative fun for kids these school holidays

Families getting creative at a previous Free Kids Drop-in Art Day at the Hastings Art Gallery. Photo / Alphapix Photography

By Frances Martin, Hastings Art Gallery educator


At Hastings Art Gallery our free Kids Drop-in Art Days are a consistent highlight in our busy calendar.

In the school holidays we welcome whānau into our education space, Auaha, to be creative, make something craft-y and get involved with what’s happening at the gallery in a relaxed and engaging way.

These school holidays we have free kids drop-in days from 10am to 3pm on April 16, 18, and 23. For the first time the gallery will also hold its first low-sensory session on April 24. Bookings are required for this session.

There is no Drop-in Day on April 25 due to Anzac Day.

At the Drop-in, we’re going to be weaving, hole-punching, book-making and playing with our favourite autumn colours.

We plan a range of craft activities, based loosely on our current exhibitions, but they often evolve to have a playful or whimsical element because it’s the holidays and we like to make it fun.

Families attending a previous free Kids Drop-in Art Day at Hastings Art Gallery. Photo / Putaanga Waitoa photography
Families attending a previous free Kids Drop-in Art Day at Hastings Art Gallery. Photo / Putaanga Waitoa photography

We plan for a wide range of ages to be able to engage with the activities from toddlers to the supporting grown-ups and everyone in between. We like it when everyone gets stuck in and embraces their creative side.

Children turn up with their parents, grandparents, aunties, babysitters, cousins, and school friends. People often bump into old friends and even make new ones.

In the January holidays this year we made colourful bugs, shipping containers, mermaid tails, and cameras with cellophane lenses.

The bugs are still on display in Auaha, often complimented by visiting school groups. People admire their diversity, character, and creativity.

Our favourite activities are the ones in which children make something to wear or to play with, such as the recent camera, crowns, and jewellery.

We see children leave the gallery and walk through Civic Square adorned in their wonderful creations and engaged in play.

We also like it when children make something with the intention to gift it to mum or dad, or someone else that they love.

Sometimes we hear about things made at one of our Drop-in days that are still treasured at home months later.

Some families pop in for 20 minutes and some others have been known to stay for hours. Sometimes the tables are overflowing with people keen to leave the house on a rainy winter day. Sometimes, later in the day when it’s quieter, everyone in the room chats to each other.

It’s lovely to see members of the community engaging with each other and that we can provide such a space for them to do so. Some families come multiple times every holidays.

Some families are from out of town. Some grown-ups have never set foot inside Hastings Art Gallery before and it’s a new experience for them and their children. It’s always wonderful to welcome new people and to see familiar faces.

In the lead up to the holidays we chat about what activities we’ll do for the upcoming holidays. We have no shortage of creative ideas but sometimes we have to restrain them in order to be practical. Behind the scenes the gallery staff support in small ways to make it all come together.

Outside of the times the holiday programme operates we have other free activities available for families like our interactive wall in the foyer and our activity book Pukapuka Mahi. These are always available during our opening hours.

The Free Kids Drop-in Days run from 10am – 3pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays during most school holidays, and for two weeks in January. We do different activities each week.

Check the Hastings Art Gallery website for updated times. Or you might be lucky enough to catch a sneak preview of our plans on social media. We can’t wait to see you.

For more information see http://www.hastingscityartgallery.co.nz/

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