Autumn Transient Art

Alistair Bryce-CleggMud Kitchen, Outdoors, Texture Kitchen, UncategorizedLeave a Comment

It is important that children have opportunities for art, design and creativity outdoors as well as indoors. Ideally in your indoor space you will have provision for children to make, model and paint. If you put one of your easels outside with some pots of paint and a couple of aprons then you are just recreating the same indoor opportunities without the ceiling. Although some children might really enjoy painting outside, a key question for me is ‘what unique creative experience can outdoors offer them?’ There will be more about outdoor painting later in the week!

We want children to be able to transfer their indoor skills and apply them to different resources and experiences that are strongly linked to nature in their outdoor space, not just repeat the indoor activity.


Inspired by the work of Malaguzzi and Goldschmidt, as part of this texture kitchen extension I created a small transient art station with lots of natural loose parts for the children to create with.

The table itself is made out of a large tyre and a pallet. In the middle of the pallet is a mirror to catch the light and also give some interesting perspectives on the objects that have been placed on it.


I put some materials in the middle of the table as an initial provocation.


I also used another smaller table to house lots and lots of natural resources such as moss, seeds, seed pods, fir cones, small pieces of wood, shells, feathers…the list goes on. As it is Autumn I also used seasonal resources such as pumpkin seeds, conkers, sycamore keys and autumn leaves.

The children can also collect any items from the outdoor environment that they are inspired to use, so you will often get the addition of flowers, petals, grass, stones and the odd worm (if you are not watching carefully)!

Transient Collage

The children can use the resources to create patterns, sculptures and general works of art on the pallet, ground or any surface that takes their fancy. I also provided some wooden seed trays (from Ebay) that are filled with mud and then topped with sand.


Not only does this give the children a defined space to work in (which they sometimes like) it also gives them multiple layers of texture to explore and use in their pattern making or modelling.


Alongside all of the natural materials, I also added a few wooden spoons, scoops and sticks to provoke investigation of what might lie beneath the sand!


If you haven’t got seed trays, but have got a paved area, then paving stones make a brilliant space for transient art as they are a ready made canvas. You can also use old pillow cases as an instant canvas and bed sheets for a large scale piece of work.

All that was missing now was the children their creativity and that innate capacity to investigate and explore.


The only ‘man made’ resource that I used on this occasion were these miniature dinosaur skulls from TTS (more info here). They were very popular for both burying in the seed trays and using as part of the transient art creations.


There was LOTS of thought and concentration as well as plenty of opportunities for talk and discussion.




I tried to have a good mixture of 2D and 3D objects so that the children would get the opportunity to create some hight and depth in their work.

The key thing about transient art is that it is transient. It is important for the children to know from the outset that on the majority of occasions when their work is finished, it will be recorded, perhaps by photograph,


then the objects that have been used are returned for other children to work with. If you are just introducing the concept of a transient art station for the first time then provide a small number of really interesting resources. If you put all of the resources you possess out, then they will use them, and tidy up and sort out will take a week (at least)! Once the children get the hang of how it works then you can build up what you offer.


On this occasion (as is often the case) the children enjoyed the sorting and returning of the items as much as they had using them.


This worked really well as an extension to the texture kitchen with resources from the kitchen space being used as part of the art exploration and vice versa. The seed trays are relatively cheap to pick up (or make if you are handy) and they also make a great addition to the continuous provision for your texture kitchen.


If you were particularly exploring pattern and form then you could also enhance your transient art space with pictorial provocations like the work of Anthony Goldsworthy or Richard Shilling (more info on Richard here)


Andy Goldsworthy


Richard Shilling – Land Art

Or, you can just leave it up to their pure imagination.

So, get collecting and creating – natural art in a natural environment!

Tomorrow we will be adding a clay station to your texture kitchen…See you back here then.


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