A magic moment at the city gallery in Wellington

An inspiring home-school, Mum, friend invited my two younger children and I to a shadow workshop at the City Gallery in Wellington last week.


It was the perfect distraction from the troubled start to our week (I’ll get around to the ‘magic moment’ alluded to in the title of this post after a slight detour…!).

Our eight year old said she’d give the local school a go – and headed off for the day full of excitement, mixed with a dose of nerves. She lasted the day – but came home with a stomach full of anxiety.

A class of 32 children and an overwhelming lunch time; seeing hundreds of children in one place, witnessing a fight, seeing younger children being pushed over, and little apparent adult supervision, left her with a deep feeling of woe. She came home saying she felt scared to move in class. She is a girl of constant motion. She cartwheels at home when she’s working out a maths problem. Movement helps her learn. She talks all day and asks endless questions. It was quickly apparent that school wasn’t the right fit – at least not yet.

So, in the background to the magic moment (I’m getting around to it very soon!), there has been a lot of thought and discussion between dear hubby and I as to the next best course of action for our free-spirited eight year old. In a nut shell, we’ve decided we’ll carry on home educating, as we have done (apart from two terms when she was five), for the foreseeable future, but will look at possibly¬†integrating her into the private girls school, that her older sister attends, in the future – when the time is right.

Phew! Now, on to that ‘magic moment‘!

We arrived at the City Gallery running a few minutes late, but were relieved to see a group standing outside that we recognised. We were led into the gallery by a wonderful art educator, who introduced us to the exhibitions and facilitated the workshop.

I recognised a few faces from our homeschooling time before we’d left Wellington to live in California. It was really heart warming to feel so welcome and at ease. The mixed ages of children, along with parents, all blended in comfortable harmony. It struck me how here was a group of very unique individuals drawn together by their common interest – or need – to walk a different path in seeking out learning opportunities for their children.

After a brief introduction we followed the gallery educator’s torch light into an installation by William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time.

Initially, we gathered in one corner of the room, allowing our eyes and ears to adjust to the dimmed lighting, mixed with the rhythmical sound of a metronome, which was also projected visually on a wall. In the room there was also a wooden, mechanical structure that moved continually, creating a background sound and making its own shadow on the walls around us. Three of the four walls came alive with images and animations.

After we’d adjusted to the surroundings, we walked into the centre of the room and sat down to feel the exhibition unravel around us. It was a very sensory experience. My eight year old daughter noticed the same images were appearing on the three walls, but at different times, and the last segment of the installation was like a visual projection of sound, with string coming unravelled and travelling along the wall.

As the exhibition came to an end we left the installation feeling creatively pumped and ready for our workshop.

After a brief introduction from the art educator the children got busy with paper, string, sticks and tape to transform their bodies into interesting shapes, before walking behind a screen and creating the most amazing silhouettes.

My four year old daughter asked me to cut out words and symbols so she could be a ‘Queen of Love’ with a special message for a friend she’d had to bid farewell, when we left California. A magic moment indeed – and one which I quickly shared with my friend in California and made sure the message of love was passed onto her son.

Shadow workshop

I took a few photographs and footage with my phone camera, in a hurried attempt to capture the moment. The children all worked together, marching in time to the music, in a procession of silhouettes; transformed into birds, kings and queens, warriors and explorers.

They looked incredible and it was magic to see the wide mix of ages working together (one of the aspects of the home schooling community I love).