Vancouver Art Gallery

Family Fuse Weekend

Date and Venue November 21 & 22, 2009 from 10am to 5pm| Vancouver Art Gallery 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver

Reviewer Nila Gopaul

It wasn't clear who enjoyed Family Fuse Weekend more – the parents or the children. What was evident was that one day spent touring through the theme of Green World wasn't enough: there was just so much to see and do. Green World was the second Family Fuse Weekend to be hosted by the Vancouver Art Gallery; the first of its nature was The City back in June.

Green World really did turn itself over to families. Kids followed comedian Riel Hahn around the gallery floor for a "funny and fantastical" tour of Expanding Horizons. Ms. Hahn asked them questions about paintings that the kids had to really think about, and the group was intrigued. There wasn't a peep until it was their turn to talk. Adolescents sketched Scott McFarland's landscape photography while adults peeked around the corner to get a load of a very unique piece choreography. The 605 Collective was made up of three dancers, Josh Martin, the director, Tiffany Tregarthen and Dave Raymond, whose movements were are response to Scott McFarland's depiction of nature.

Haida Gwaii singers performed while young children formed a line and joined in a shark dance. Renowned Haida drummers and singers Reg Davidson, Robert Davidson, and Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson sang ancient songs and children circled and jumped up to the beat. The Ear Room: A Sonic Laboratory was completely booked all day. There, youngsters could create and record soundtracks to the film they watched.

Two favorites were the Magical Shadow Forest and the Fantastical Forest of Paint and Possibilities, said one mother and her 5-year-old daughter. Simple materials built an imaginative wilderness: tongue depressors for trunks, fabric, bamboo, coloured paper, and tape. In the Forest, more fathers than mothers laboured with their children to create the most amazing forest in the room. Equally engaging were the shadow puppets. One would think to ask where the stencils were because of the innovative pieces that kept creeping up as shadows of the walls. Green World Films provided two sofas for adults and piles of cushions for the young ones, where kid-friendly shorts were screened. And for the parents who were pooped, there was the Family Fuse Chill Out Lounge ... for time out.

It wasn't long ago when families had to wait a month for the Vancouver Art Gallery to put on a family event. Now, there are smaller weekly family programs every Saturday for 5 to 12-year-olds and their families. And, they are a hit too. Director and Curator of Education and Public Programs Heidi Reitamaier is the brain child behind these family affairs. Check your local paper for weekly events at the Vancouver Art Gallery and stay tuned for the third Family Fusion Weekend in March. Inside Out will be the theme, and it promises again to be "one of the biggest kid-oriented art events in the country."

© 2009 Nila Gopaul