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Cbeebies joins Whitworth Music Baby!

CBeebies presenter Alex Winters and his team joined us at this week’s Music Baby. The team filmed in the first 2 sessions capturing our fantastic parents and babies playing and exploring the musical environments that we created. The footage of parents and children making music will form part of a new, interactive guide for parents on CBeebies Grown-ups that explores music and why it’s great for early year’s children. The resource will be available on the Cbeebies Grown-ups website in the summer, so watch this space!

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Glow sticks and psychedelic lights… it must be Disco Baby!

From Handel’s Water Music to a taste of Saturday Night Fever, this week’s Music Baby was Disco! The blinds were closed, the lights were dimmed and an immersive, magical environment was created with the help of disco balls, spot lights, fairy lights and wall projections.

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The grand piano took centre stage and babies and their parents/ carers were treated to performances by music students from Royal Northern College of Music as well as getting to have a tinkle on the old ivories themselves.

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The light projections on the walls were the highlight and went down particularly well with very young babies.

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We loved the session this week, it felt totally different to normal and my baby loved all the lights.

We have a projector so i want to try to set up the wall lighting to music back at home.

Great session this week, thank you!

This was our first time and we loved it will definitely be coming back!

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Baby Play at Rusholme Sure Start Children’s Centre

While the Whitworth Art Gallery has been closed for redevelopment the Learning and Engagement Team, as well as continuing our engagement work in weird and wonderful settings around Manchester, have each taken on a different work placement. The period of closure presented us with a great opportunity to get out there and really embed ourselves within our local communities to build strong, meaningful and lasting relationships with different organisations and individuals.

As Early Years Coordinator I chose to do my placement at Rusholme Sure Start Children’s Centre. This centre is right in the heart of Rusholme and right on Whitworth’s doorstep so it made perfect sense to want to work with them.

I’ve been working with Faheema (Centre Manager) Grace and Caroline (Outreach Workers) over the last year or so to help them set up their own Stay and Play sessions specifically for non walking babies. Back in the summer Grace and Caroline visited Art Baby to start to gather ideas about how their sessions might work. I shared everything I’d learnt along the way when setting up our own baby sessions and gave them as much advice as possible about what types of sensory resources and objects work well with babies and where to source them from.

In September 2013 Rusholme’s Baby Play was born! Grace and Caroline have done a great job. Each Wednesday the space is transformed into an immersive sensory environment. The lights are dimmed and the room is illuminated with an array of fairy lights and projected lights on the ceiling. There’s a soft cosy black and white area for parents and babies to relax in, treasure baskets full of natural objects encouraging heuristic play, coloured ribbons, sand, water, den spaces and lots lots more for babies and their parents/ carers to explore. And each week there’s a health visitor on hand to answer any questions or worries that parents might have.

I love going along to these Wednesday sessions and meeting new parents and their babies from the Rusholme community. Last week we had our youngest visitor yet at just 4 weeks old! Having this unique opportunity has really enabled a strong relationship to build up with the team at Rusholme which I know will continue and thrive once the Whitworth reopens it doors and way into the future.

Baby Play is for babies who have not yet found their feet and runs every Wednesday from 1-3pm at Rusholme Sure Start Children’s Centre. For more information contact rusholme.sscc@manchester.gov.uk or call 0161 227 3171.

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Roving Reporters – The Amazing Expansion!

This months Roving Reporters Blog Post comes from Danyaal, Hashim and Sadia – enjoy!

Hello we are the Roving Reporters. Here is some more breaking and unexpected news about the great, amazing and eye catching whitworth expansion and it’s progress so far. Last month we interviewed the site manager Mr Jackson. There have been problems but they have overcome them over the last past couple of months.

There is going to be an unexpected under floor heater which the public might not know about. There is 150m hole dug in the ground for connecting things to pipes in the sewers. The windows in the glass cafe are bought all the way from Austria and the other materials are from Germany

The builders have succeeded in making the building weather tight.

Did you know….?

The Whitworth art gallery Expansion is going really well with all the new glass and all the different type of materials. Mr Jackson, the site manager, has told us all about different problems they are experiencing. For example, the rain is causing some problems but they are coping with this really well. The builders made sure that the roofs were safe for the stormy weather. The Japanese knotweed has also been solved! The good news is, they have done the external finishing and completed the heating and the marble floor.

The beautiful glass café is finished. It’s all made out of glass and has stainless steel mullions running through the glass. This will give a shimmering effect. The builders are looking forward to putting on the roof garden soon! In the dark, freezing, windy weather, they put more lights in so they can see the things in the dark.

My opinion is that this expansion is going really well. I hope that they can finish the building soon so keep up the hard work builders!


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Arts Week – Landmarks

For a few years now, Whitworth Art Gallery has hosted a themed week that has connected to exhibitions and displays for a schools network group from the Cheshire area. Headed by Fallibroome Academy, their feeder groups ‘Art Week’ acts as a transitional project aimed towards introducing children of other schools together, before potentially moving on to Fallibroome for secondary education. Traditionally, the week has been spent at the Whitworth alone but this year we had both Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Museum host sessions based around the theme ‘Landmarks’ to showcase the ongoing collaboration across the Manchester Partnership. All taking a very distinct approach to ‘landmarks’, the Whitworth played its part this year by taking an outdoor learning ethos to creativity on a larger scale in our natural surroundings.

Using green willow and other natural resources, this kinesthetic learning process would gradually build over the four days with each following school adapting the previous classes work as we work towards displaying our very own landmark outcome in our park spaces.

Day one started with the visit of a reception class from Mottram, St Andrews Primary. After a brief tour of the park spaces and it’s sculptures – Wicker Ma’am, Cyprien Gaillard’s ‘Obelisk’ and King Edward VII to set the tone for the activity. Alongside our Forest Schools partners, Paupers Wood, we began by simply sticking green willow into the ground to form basic structure and from there, encouraged the children to speak out about what these shapes could transform into. Naturally, after being with Hannah Lee-Chalk at the Museum all morning, dinosaurs were quickly agreed upon as well as a ‘big den’. The reception class was also given umbrellas to make an all class structure of fab colour hanging from our trees.

The following afternoon had a group of year six’s from Bollinbrook Primary who came to the Park after another morning with Hannah, Gareth and Jack at the Museum. The focus for this class had been natural structure and particularly – bones! A stag and reindeer were then added to our growing collection of wicker landmarks whilst the dinosaur had evolved to resemble a snail.

Day three, due to weather and gale force winds, was trickier but that didn’t dampen spirits. Whilst our constructs had been blown to one side, we were gifted with an abundance of twigs, sticks and branches to help resurrect our creations. Whirley Primary had 10 minutes to run around and collect as many sticks as they could find. This activity proved to be very popular! Soon after, it became apparent that the big bundles of branches were as big an achievement than sculpting using the green willow. Questioning ‘is this big pile of natural resources now a landmark object in it’s own right?’

The last session on the forth day welcomed a special guest in artist, Lucy Burscough, creator of our wicker genesis, to come in and talk to the last class that visited from Mottram, St Andrews about her own willow creations. The children finished the work created by previous groups by adding their own touches to the sculptures. The den and dinosaur, which had undergone many transformations during the week, had included crocodiles, whales and a centipede from 2D forms into 3D structures. With nature being the teacher, playful, loud and very active – we kept warm and proved whatever the weather, season and conditions, we can together, achieve great outcomes outside.

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Find out what our classes got up to at the Museum!


Mottram, St Andrews follow up session back at school. Introducing Trixie the Dinosaur!

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Some feedback to share;

‘Epic’ – Reception child

‘Fantastic fun, something the children will remember’ – Parent

‘We are landmarks’ – Reception child

‘We loved it’ – Teacher

‘Thanks again for a fantastic morning and sorry about the mud in the gallery! You are all very understanding!’ – Teacher


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Lynn Setterington: Textile Artist


See our team’s Studio Thinking blog where we’ve been sharing thoughts about the brand new Clore Learning Studio we’ll have when the Whitworth reopens in Autumn 2014 . We’ve been looking at artists in our collection and how they use studios and other spaces creatively. This week we looked at textile artist Lynn Setterington whose work features in the Whitworth’s TACTILE textile handling resource.

Originally posted on Studio Thinking:

Lynn Setterington. This piece made of recycled materials is included in the Whitworth Art Gallery's TACTILE textile handling resource.

Lynn Setterington. This piece made of recycled materials is included in the Whitworth Art Gallery’s TACTILE textile handling resource.

Leading up to the Whitworth Art Gallery’s reopening, our Learning and Engagement team is preparing to move into a brand new Clore learning studio. We want to look at how our new studio space can be used creatively by our visitors.  We’ll be exploring the different ways artists in the Whitworth’s collections use their studios and other spaces for creativity, collaborative work, and much more.

Lynn uses her studio as a reflective space, where she can combine her artistic and academic practices. Her studio is a place where she can analyse her previous work, evaluating her practice and getting inspiration for future creations. Lynn says that this process is particularly useful now that she is studying for a PhD in Embroidery and socially engaged art, as it allows her to analyse…

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Electronic Baby

This week saw the second of our new Music Baby sessions. This time we wanted to try something totally different so went with an experimental, electronic music theme. We had looping and recording equipment, microphones, drum machines, keyboards and Ipads mixed in with objects to handle such as vinyl records, CDs and headphones and everything was kept to black and white for a great visual impact.

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Ruthie, our music practitioner, hooked her cello up to a loop pedal so that she could create multiple layers of sound. This meant that she could combine layers of sound that she created alongside layers of sound that the babies created both on the cello and their vocal sounds which were then played back to them on a loop.


We also used a number of ipads with music apps that reflected the real instruments that we had in the session. Strings to strum to go alongside the cello, piano keys to press to go alongside the keyboards and drums to hit alongside the drum machine.
Interestingly we found the Ipads were less popular than we’d expected, we think there might have been a slight nervousness from parents about handing their babies such expensive, fragile pieces of equipment! But, for those that did use them it was really interesting to watch as the technique needed to strum the strings or press the keys required precision and care. This was great practice for baby’s fine motor skills and dexterity and also worked in complete contrast to the real objects which you can bash!

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The biggest hit in the session was the giant CD mobile. This worked well for both the babies sitting up as they could reach and grab, as well as the younger babies who could lie down underneath and watch and reach for the swinging CDs. The CDs catch the light really nicely, sparkling and flashing, catching baby’s attention and something really easy for parents/ carers to recreate back at home.

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We loved the hanging CDs what a great idea! I’ll definitely have to try and have a go at home.

Music Baby is a new strand of work being developed by Whitworth Art Gallery while it is closed for redevelopment. Music Baby take place in it’s temporary home at The Bridgewater Hall. The Whitworth Art Gallery will reopen Autumn 2014. For more information about our work with under 2s visit http://www.culturebabies.org.uk.


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