In autumn 2014, Andrea Francke and Kim Dhillon of Invisible Spaces of Parenthood took up residence at the Portman Early Childhood Centre.
Inspired by the pedagogy of early years pioneer Friedrich Fröbel and his influence on the Bauhaus movement, Francke and Dhillon worked with children, parents, carers and staff using Fröbel’s ‘gifts’ as an open-ended, non-gendered and inexpensive resource to support intergenerational play.
Following on from their residency, Francke and Dhillon produced a number of Shapes kits for nurseries and families, each featuring geometric shapes adapted from Fröbel’s 7th gift. The accompanying manual and poster draw attention to the marginalisation of early years practice within art and education, and highlights the importance of state-maintained nursery schools in the context of ongoing government cuts and austerity policies.
To date, 40 Shapes Family Kits have been shared with families from the Portman Early Childhood Centre and 40 Shapes Nursery Kits have been distributed to nursery schools and early years providers throughout the UK.
Changing Play is an ongoing partnership with the Portman Early Childhood Centre in Westminster, which brings together artists, children, families and educators to critically reconsider early years education and care.
Andrea Francke and Kim Dhillon of Invisible Spaces of Parenthood are influenced by the do-it-yourself counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s and second-wave feminist thinking. Both provide a frame of reference to question the political, pedagogical, social and economic structures around parenting today.