Shadowing Starcatchers artists

2 April 2020

Dancer and choreographer, Mhairi Allan, received a bursary to shadow Starcatchers artists as they delivered our Creative Skills programme in Aberdeen. Here she reflects on her experience and the contribution it has made to her development as an early years artist.  

‘Create a sense of wonder’ was a phrase often used throughout the Creative Skills programme and this was my experience as I shared the sessions with early years practitioners and fantastic artists from across disciplines, including creative movement, drama, music and the visual arts.

With the emphasis on the practitioners as a priority, the nine sessions explored creativity and our own fears when doing creative tasks (mine was visual arts!).

It was a real pleasure to share the sessions with such open minded, enthusiastic and supportive practitioners and artists who were willing to share and reflect on their own experiences. It was valuable to see how individuals were able to make links between the creative activities, their own nursery and what the children they work with are interested in.

As experts in their own settings the participants were always thinking creatively and playing with ideas to try out in their own settings. Overcoming fear of making mistakes and getting it wrong was the key. We discussed the creative experience and asking for advice and ideas, having the opportunity and encouragement, as adults, to play in a safe place was crucial.

I was also fortunate to spend a morning in a local nursery to observe and take part in activities. It was a huge learning curve for me to witness some of the approaches in action. 

As a dance artist my experience of working with children has been spread over many years and in many different environments and I confess to having very little experience of working with children under the age of 3.

I definitely feel I have more confidence to try ideas out working with this age group with a bigger tool box not only of ideas but practical approaches.

The Creative Skills workshops emphasised a child – not adult-centred approach to work with early years. As an artist I have a responsibility to create a sense of ‘wonder’ and positive experiences at a very early age, planting seeds and creating lots of possibilities for children’s development and imagination. 

Mhairi’s bursary enabling her to shadow artists delivering Starcatchers Creative Skills programme was provided through Playspace, Starcatchers artist development programme.