Playing with the brand new PropsBox

On Saturday we offered the brand new refined and designed version of the PropsBox to families who joined us at Wysing’s Draw Me Play Me day.

Again it was lovely to see the children’s responses. Reassuring to see that the freshness and magic of the the first version of the props box, which we tried out so long ago at Kettle’s Yard, did not fade away. They still loved carrying it around (sometimes so thrilled to just carry it that opening it was not urgent…) and we still heard ‘wow’ and ‘oohs’ when they were opened.


Tomorrow we share it with the grown ups from galleries around the region. PropsBox now has a website of its own and will travel and get played with in we hope many more places.

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Getting Ready for ‘Starting with Play’

We’ve been very busy getting the ‘real’ propsbox ready in time for its launch on 12th October at Wysing Arts Centre in a conflab called STARTING WITH PLAY.

We’re working with Alan Perks from FITDESIGN in London and are very pleased and excited by the way its going.

We’ll also get a new website up for the props box soon and we’re planning a family workshop for the 6th Oct to trial the brand new propsbox – watch this space – we’ll post details as soon as we can.

Here are some images of the designs and work in progress. And to see the props box come to life- join us on 12th October- you can book at

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Wandering Further Afield

Many who join us for the Play Wysing days – mention the outdoors as rich source for increasing the engagement and participation. Seems like the map we have offered allows people to explore with ease what the site has to offer. And we are delighted that even teenagers seem to enjoy the combination of gallery artworks, props and the fields full of more artworks old and new, some even still in the making…


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The Imaginating Pod in Full Swing

As part of Play Wysing days- we also offer participants the ‘Imaginating Pod’- the  ‘art shed’ made of recycled wood that we have done up, re-labelled using one of the children’s invented names and equipped with big blackboard as well as reels and balls annotated with scores to play around the site.

The pod is a huge success and many people comment on it in their feedback saying they could have spent all day there, will bring a picnic next time and how lovely it is to have things that the children can touch and play with in physical way outside.

Much of the feedback we collect reminds us what an asset the outdoors are for Wysing. People love exploring the sites and some tell us the props are not necessary – the place is so rich in its own right, whilst others comment that good to have something to focus on. Some of the scores are more popular than others-  ‘Humming the Colours’ seems to be a success and is enjoyed by a family of teenagers too!



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Playing at Recollect

Currently  at Wysing Arts Centre is Recollect: A gallery exhibition exploring architecture, memory and experience. The families that turn up for our Play Wysing days are all intrigued to explore the show using the props. This time the props are in a bag which we designed to see  how it works instead of the box we tried out at Kettle’s Yard days.  We also made a map of the whole site, which is vast and as participants tell us ‘full of hidden treasures.’

Some of the children use the map to collect drawings of the different spaces, is empty circles that solicit their input. Lucy’s map is very detailed (see below). Many seem keen to take them home and carry on drawing there.

The props in the gallery offer a way into what could otherwise be, according to one mum a pretty difficult show to ‘get to grips with’. The children of course have no problem relating to the artworks, making up their own games and explaining  to the adults accompanying them what its all about- usually using the phono cups – one of the most popular of props!

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Can You Hear It Nice And Loud?

At the Play Wysing days – we get many more visitors than expected and the responses are so numerous and overwhelming -its hard to know where to start from….

Sebastian and Finlay come on the first day, straight after football practice. We wonder if they’ll have any energy left to play- well they did!! Its a typical (Cambridge) blustery day and after a short picnic they launch into the gallery and head on from there to explore the rest of the site.

When they get back and we ask how it went – they are keen to show us their video clips, made on site in response to it and featuring the props. Here’s our favourite- the story of the man of thunder, who created the Dome (which is really the Globe stage made by Andy Holden for a music festival last year) and for whom the Phono Cups are the prefect vehicle to make himself heard…

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Adults Playing with the Props Box at Firstsite Gallery


 The Props Box was invited along to an Early Arts session at Firstsite Gallery in Colchester, Essex on the 15th June 2012.

It was great to see it in action in yet another gallery setting. It was also the first time the Props Box was used by adults only. These were mostly artists, early years practitioners and gallery education facilitators.

Participants really took to playing in the gallery, mostly making up their own games- which is what we like to see!

The feedback was glowing with enthusiasm. The comments included: I was surprised that… ‘it was simple but different’

‘we created out own little world very    quickly’, ‘so many things happened communications wise’

People also told us what they’ll remember most from playing with the Props Box:


‘ lots of conversations, memories, familiar experiences, funny moments, connections.’ ,

‘being ‘allowed’ to use the space differently’. Some were reminded of ‘childhood pranks’ and others enjoyed the license to ‘not having to answer questions’ and being allowed to be ‘thinking rather than glancing’

Even the blue cord that binds the box together becomes a game as it often does with children….

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