Tuesday, 27 September 2011

It's like having the South Bank in Colchester

Kind of. Well, we paid a visit to Firstsite, Colchester's new, much-delayed, way-over-budget shiny golden arts centre, on its opening day last Sunday. I'm not the huge-est fan of the design, but it's striking, you have to give it that. HackneyBoy said "Why is it all slantwise and over-y?" which is a good question, the answer to which is presumably "because the architect wanted it to be".

We missed the 10am opening (apparently there was some rugby on) but got down there in time to see some Morris dancers doing their thing on the patio bit outside. Don't get me started about Morris dancing, we learned it at primary school but only the boys were allowed to perform because it was not authentic to have girls taking part, like it is authentic to have eight year olds doing it anyway.

The kids loved the wide spaces and the seating ("comfy stones!"), and there was drawing taking place on massive bits of paper over the Berryfield Mosaic, and outside in the sunken garden that used to belong to social services they were making bendy stick sculptures, mosaics, and drawing with weird chalk bags. The kids had also decided that climbing trees was art as well, and were getting on with that.

The exhibitions themselves were to me frankly a blur on the edges of my vision as I followed HackneyBaby around suggesting that the nice art people might not like it if he chalked all over the gold walls, but I saw enough to suggest I would love to go back without the children, or with a sleeping baby. I especially liked Aleksandra Mir's HELLO Colchester, a wall of pics of pairs of Colchester residents stretching through time in a Six Degrees of Seperation linky way.

I am also excited by the family games that will be taking place at weekends, and the drawing activities on Mondays and Tuesdays, and I like the sound of some of the talks, especially Camulodunum, Image and Reality. In conclusion, despite mixed feelings engendered by my mother's experience of working next to the building site for what seems like decades, I am liking Firstsite.

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