Celebrating Chinese New Year of the Rooster – Family Events at the National Gallery
TeAfter quite an eventful December, we went into hibernation in January. It got colder and we stepped out of the house for absolutely necessary stuff like Mr B for work or Little B for school or I for running errands. However last weekend, we told ourselves “enough is enough.” London winters are long and there was no wisdom in waiting them out.
Saturday, January 28th was perfect for us to come out of our duvet-induced inertia. Meteorologist predicted it to be a sunny day with bearable temperature of around 10 degrees. It was also the day of the Chinese New Year of the Rooster. We did a quick online search and found out that the National Gallery is having a Chinese New Year celebration which is especially meant for kids. Ate our breakfast and out we went.
As we stepped outside of the tube station at Trafalgar Square, by golly, it was a good day. The sky was clear and it was sunny all around. There were Chinese paper lanterns decorated everywhere. And going by the crowd gathered at the Square, it seemed like everyone in London was out to enjoy this sunny day to the best.
I had a preconceived idea about how the “gallery” is going to be. I was a tad worried if it will be just a place with painting hung on, paintings that I might not even understand. Not just that, I also thought that Little B might get bored within an hour.
One step inside the gallery and I realised I was so wrong.
The Gallery was a place alive and bustling with adults and children all around. The building is stunning to look at from both outside and inside. The gallery was one of the most expansive places I’ve been. I still couldn’t “understand” most of the paintings, however the way they were displayed, all three of us were in awe.
Celebrating Chinese New Year of the Rooster
Family Events at the National Gallery
We attended two family activities organized at the Gallery to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The activities were for kids and their parents (or carers).
Tales from the Gallery
The Chickenshed Theatre presented an engaging, fun and funny performance for the kids. The kids sitting in the audience were encouraged to climb up on the stage and perform with the actors. The actors from the Theatre group went all around the audience encouraging parents to stand up and move around. It seemed like the entire hall was a stage and everyone was an actor.
Another thing that I liked about this performance is that it reminded me of the theatre classes I took more than a decade back. In the initial theatre classes, students are asked to loosen their bodies and act without putting too much thought in it. The classes use a lot of theatre-related exercises to help students do that. The Chickenshed Theatre too incorporated a couple of similar exercises in their routine and let kids have fun with them.
Hence, Little B had whale of a time participating. She was waving and clapping and being all silly. Little B enjoyed playing a puppet with her father as a puppeteer. She was spellbound when she saw a giant rooster on the stage.
The performance was excellent. There was not even a single adult or child in the audience who wasn’t laughing!
Strut Your Stuff
This was a craft-related activity. Children along with their parents or carers had to make a headdress for a rooster using paper bags. However, when we went to the designated area for the activity, I was surprised.
First of all, surprised because this designated area was one of the halls of the gallery. Now imagine a gallery hall filled with priceless several centuries-old paintings. And now imagine kids sitting and strolling around this very hall, tearing, pasting, stapling and colouring papers up. Seems out of place right, isn’t it?
I was also surprised that the gallery staff had designed the activity in such a way that the gallery aspect gets incorporated in this craft activity.
All kids were given this pack to start with.
Observing the Paintings With Roosters!
The pack had information about Chinese New Year and roosters. It also had 5 questions about roosters, answers to which can be found by looking at 5 different paintings in the gallery. All 5 of these paintings had rooster in them as the subject or just as an object. The pack also came with a map (for directions for where to find the paintings) and with pencil and paper (to draw the roosters kids see in the paintings). Only after kids complete the pack, they can come back and craft a rooster headdress.
I felt it was extremely clever of the gallery staff to encourage kids to find more about roosters by looking at the paintings which otherwise kids might not be interested in looking at.
Little B loved doing this activity. Running from one room to another and finding out the paintings was an exciting treasure hunt. By that time, kids were swarming everywhere in the gallery looking at paintings and trying to draw roosters.
Once Little B was done with the pack, we went back to a large hall where the craft activity was taking place. Materials for the craft were provided by the staff. This is what we made together –
The National Gallery holds family events almost every weekend. Some events are drop in and for others you can book a place online. The events and the entrance to the Gallery are free of cost. However, a donation is always appreciated.
For more information about Gallery’s family events, click – National Gallery Families.
You can get more information regarding the Chickenshed Theatre for kids here What’s On Chickenshed.
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