Sunday, 27 March 2011
pet and joan and play
Adventure Playgrounds appear on the scene during the gray days of the 1950s. They where the brain child of a wonderful individual Joe Benjamin.Joe observed the importance of play in the development of young people. He focused on the role of play for the inner city child. After the second world war Britain under went a major social shift with development of the Welfare State. The pre war society was fast vanishing,indeed whole communities where being reshaped under the impact of greater mobility and class fragmentation. Secure communities with their strong historical roots in neighbourhood and family ties secumed to new work practices and greater spending power of the working class who wanted to move into the middle class strata of ambition and security. The ruins of war still scared the city land scape, and out of theses ruins that a new dimension in play arose. Adventure Play. Play for young people always took place away from the household onto the streets.It was on the streets that identifies were formed ,friendship made and broken and exploration took place.But with the advent of the moter car and greater investment in public transport the streets became increasingly unsafe. Indeed whole communities became cut off from each other"kids"had to be careful of the roads otherwise they would be mowed down by cars or lorries. It was in the space left by the bombs that Joe saw the opportunity to allow kids to explore and play.Ruins have always held a fascination for humans and children.On bomb sites all around England children could transform their realities. All those vast derelict spaces created a magical landscape in which creative chaos was given free rain.In the heart of urban communities a forest of wonder sprung into life. Danger and exploration became the norm! Working class children could share in adventures which only middle class or upper class children could explore. In the ruins of war lay the untapped secrets and overwhelming creativity of children's dreams and wild adventures. Jo convinced local Governments to fund schemes where by adults,community workers and artists could work with children, on ruined sites in order to help the child to explore and develop the notion of play and responsibility. Over time the Utopian wonderland run out of steam and became sites of social control. But not before the influx of a new breed of Urban radical came into the picture. Artists and hippies arrived with even weirder ideas than the children could conjure up. Whilst at the same time the cultural scene began to blossom into ideas embracing radical,alternative politics and radical ideas with regards art and its "manufacture" The Arts Labs had arrived. Suddenly everyone could create a dream.Play had moved from children into adults.Creativity shaped a whole rang of social radical philosophy.Politics and play power intertwined into versions of anarchic meanings. Something was shifting but no one knew what or where these chaotic and exciting ideas where really about except fun, danger and exploration. A new force emerged a process which is at the core of play Improvisation had arrived.