Review: Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art for Kids at QAGOMA, Australia

In this post, Simone Kling gives her top picks from the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art’s Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art for Kids (November 21, 2015 – April 10, 2016).  Simone is an artist and gallery educator who has worked in the learning departments at the Denver Art Museum (USA), The Ipswich Art Gallery (Australia) and the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (Australia). Prior to pursing a career in gallery education, she worked as an art educator across primary schools in Queensland. 

A family play in Justin Shoulder & Bhenji Ra’s Club Anak (Club Child) at APT8. Image credit:

Since 1998 the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) has been working with artists to develop art projects, programs and interactive installations especially for children and their families. In 2006 the Gallery opened its second site, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), home to the internationally renowned Children’s Art Centre. The children’s program at QAGOMA aims to connect children with contemporary artworks and the creative processes of artists. The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art is QAGOMA’s much anticipated flagship display and celebration of contemporary art from the Asia Pacific region. Its most recent iteration, APT8, is a six-month exhibition featuring the work of over 80 artists and collectives who explore the theme of performative art through mediums such as photography, kinetic art, figurative painting, film and installation.

A major draw card at APT8 are the 12 children’s activities featured in the APT8Kids program, all of which have been developed collaboratively between contemporary artists and the gallery team. A unique aspect of QAGOMA’s programme is its approach to working in partnership with artists. This is done through a process whereby the Children’s Art Centre teamwork closely with particular artists in the development and design of the children’s spaces and programs. This not only fuses a stronger connection between child and artist, but also allows artist’s practices to be an integral part of the institution. The activities range from interactive creative spaces, multi-media hands-on installations and play-based environments that expose children and families to different cultures, histories and religions from the Asia Pacific region. All children’s activities are free and open daily 10am-5pm. A sample of the APT8Kids programme is featured below:

Choi Jeong Hwa – The Mandala of Flowers (2015)

Hwa is interested in mass-produced plastic objects and how they can be transformed from the mundane into something with inspiration and beauty. He encourages visitors to make mandala shapes out of various sized bottle caps, which at times of peak visitation, produces a collaborative kaleidoscope of shape and colour. The materials used are incredibly simple and accessible, which makes the activity enormously desirable for teachers and parents to replicate outside of the gallery. Out of all the activities on display at APT8Kids, Hwa’s space has appeared to be appealing to the widest age range. The tactility and overall sensory exposure provides not only children and adults with experiential and play-based encounters, but babies and toddles seemed to be just as captivated with the activity.

Angela Tia Tia – Looking Back (2015)

Tia Tia’s Looking Back installation is made up of four interconnecting spaces where cameras film different aspects of ones body as they pass through. Tia Tia is interested in the visitors seeing themselves in an unconventional way, which at times can become disorientating as the face is intentionally almost always out of view. With the ‘selfie’ obsession so prominent, this space encourages children to interact with a potentially unfamiliar aspect of themself and experiment with their own image. The activity forces children to physically interact with the space, engaging their whole body in a unique way.

Yelena Vorobyeva and Viktor Vorobyev – I Prefer (2015)

Yelena and Viktor’s I Prefer interactive installation features six fruit or vegetable templates and is accompanied by a video of the artists painting a green tomato to appear as a watermelon. Participants are encouraged to do the same with the templates, transforming the mundane into endless possibilities. The activity encourages children to explore creative possibilities within everyday objects, and prompts storytelling through drawing and imagination. Whilst observing the space, I saw  many toddlers and parents working together on their templates, extending the age barrier and providing avenues for parents to collaborate in and facilitate their child’s learning.

Justin Shoulder and Bhenji Ra – Club Anak (Club Child) (2015)

Club Anak taps into every child’s infatuation with creatures and monsters. With various paper templates of fingers, eyes, body parts and miscellaneous shapes all designed by the artists, visitors can create a mythical avatar with the option of taking it home or displaying it in an immersive glowing environment. Adding the Club Anak room to the activity provides younger children with a kinaesthetic and tactile element to their experience as they crawl around the room acting like a monster, and provides older children with the validation of displaying their creations. Not too surprisingly many children decide to add their work to the room, making the space more alluring as it fills with imaginative creatures.

Further Links

QAGOMA website 2015. Children’s Art Centre website, viewed March 15, 2015.

QAGOMA website 2015, Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, viewed March 15, 2015.

QAGOMA website 2015, ‘Media Release: APT8 Kids Goes Hands-On at QAGOMA this SummerOctober 21, 2015.

Cull, Tamsin 2015. ‘Contemporary Art for Kids – Collaborating with Artists and Children’ presentation,‘ Museums & Galleries Queensland Conference (Australia).

Heron, D & Cull, T 2005. Artists Collaborating with Kids, Artlines, Dec 2005, pp. 28 – 33.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Museum Collaborative

In addition to the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Science Centre and the Ipswich Art Gallery (formally known as Global Arts Link), QAGOMA was a partner of the QUT Museums Collaborative’s research group (1997–2004). The collaborative worked alongside gallery curators and educators to study young children’s responses and participation in exhibitions and learning programs. The publications and findings from the QUT Museum Collaborative have formed the most significant body of research into early years learning in museums and galleries to date. Please see below for a list of publications. 

Anderson, D., Piscitelli, B., Everett,M. (2008) Competing Agendas: Young Children’s Museum Field Trips. Curator: The Museum Journal, 3, p. 253-273.

Piscitelli, B., Weier, K., & Everett, M. (2003). “Museums and young children: Partners in learning about the world”. In Wright, S. (Ed.) Children, meaning making and the arts.  Sydney:  Pearson.

Anderson, D., Piscitelli, B., Weier, K. Everett, M & Tayler, C. (2002). “Children’s Museum Experiences:  Identifying Powerful Mediators of Learning”, Curator, 45 (3), 213-231.

Piscitelli, B. & Weier, K. (2002). “Learning with, through and about art: the role of social interactions”. In Paris, S. (Ed.) Perspectives on object centred learning in museums.  New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Piscitelli, B., & Anderson, D. (2002).  “Young Children’s Perspectives of Museum Settings and Experiences”.<>    Museum Management and Curatorship, 19 (3), 269 – 282.

Piscitelli, B. (2002). Young children’s interactive experiences in museums:  engaged, embodied and empowered learners.  Curator, 44 (3), 224- 229.

Piscitelli, B. & D. Anderson.  (2000). “Young children’s learning in museum settings”, Visitor Studies Today, 3 (3), 3 – 10.

Piscitelli, B.  (1997). “The challenge to enjoy: Young children as visitors in museums”, Journal of Museum Education, 22 (2 & 3), 20 –21.

Piscitelli, B. (2006) “Keeping Queensland museums and galleries on top and out-in-front with programs for children and young people”, Artery, 2 (1), 3-6.

Piscitelli, B. (2003). “Fuelling innovation: starting young”, Artlink, 23 (2), 65-67.

Piscitelli, B., Weier, K., & Everett, M. (2003).  Enhancing young children’s museum experiences:  a manual for museum staff.  Brisbane:  QUT.

Piscitelli, Barbara, F. McArdle & K. Weier (1999).  Beyond Look and Learn:  Investigating, Implementing and Evaluating Young Children’s Learning in Museums.  Brisbane, Queensland University of Technology.

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