Ingredients: Black board paint, chalk, a paintbrush and a spare wall
The Big Sell: It’s like an i-Pad, only without WiFi?!
Strategy: Choose any blank wall at home and paint with 2 – 3 layers of blackboard paint to create a space for any multi-tasking, multi-productive family to exhibit their head space communally. Provide chalk on tap…
The verdict: Recently my freelance youth arts work exploded! Now, I’m not complaining, but I started to panic slightly… how would I stay on top of six different projects at the same time as well as raising two little boys and running a home? So ‘The Blackboard Wall’ was born. The purpose of The Blackboard Wall was two-fold:
1) On the top half, everything that I (like every mother) held in my head to juggle shopping lists, important dates, phone calls birthday gifts, bright ideas etc.. could be shared in one public place for EVERYONE to chip in and help [ushering the new phrase... “Do you know when the ... is?” “Have you looked on The Wall?”]
2) On the bottom half, a space could be made for the children to scribble to their hearts content, which brings me on to the bigger issue at hand.
I always wanted to raise my children to be creative people, not just literally in terms of knowing their way around a paintbrush or a colour wheel, but in the broader sense to view a problem as a brain-teaser rather than a barrier, to view a blank page as a launching pad rather than a test.
In keeping with this philosophy I wanted our home to be a stage set for an imaginative childhood rather than a holding bay or a pristine cage, so when heavily pregnant with my first born I painted a huge mural on the nursery wall of a travelling map of magical lands from which they could weave marvellous dreams. We put up scaffolding planks as wide shelves to hold a myriad of arts equipment within reach so they could blend media as and when they wished. But there was still something missing. For me the new Blackboard Wall is the cherry on the cake – a promise to view a room as an exhibition space in the making; immediate, evolving, with a toy that draws in adults and children to play alongside.
And on a deeper note, this is one of my attempts as an artist, mother and feminist to not internalise culpability for everything but to share the load and raise a family who work, play, plan and act together. I’m not saying we’re quite there yet, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Catchphrase: The writing’s on The Wall!
Left wanting more?
• I wish I could have found a tin of the magnetic blackboard paint, but if I do another coat might be added!
• When it comes to murals don’t be too formulaic – you don’t have to buy ready-made stickers or wallpapers – look at other ways to display your favourite images from birthday cards, magazines or textiles. For instance, in this blog a North London mum makes a beautiful nursery from hand-me-downs, thrifty collections and DIY projects.