Laing Art Gallery full of building blocks as Colin Booth's Institute of Play entertains Newcastle

By Culture24 Reporter | 18 August 2011
A photo of a sculpture of white blocks against a black background
© Image: Peter Greenhalf
Exhibition: Colin Booth: Institute of Play, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, until October 2 2011

Part architecture in itself, part design play for children, it’s no surprise to find the V&A Museum of Childhood behind the commission for the giant Institute of Play sculpture.

Formed of 3,000 individual blocks of tulip wood, it’s the work of Colin Booth, a Gateshead-born artist who has partly responded to watching his own kids at play, and is accompanied by two of his other sculptures, Colony and Streamline.

In a nod to history, the German forefather of building blocks Friedrich Froebel (who was also the creator of kindergartens, and arguably various principles of modern education in the process) also has a presence here.

Jackie Britton, a passionate blogger who spends hours cataloguing all things bricky in her job at the V&A, has loaned two of his pioneering early 19th century pieces, as well as a collection of “Architoys” from her oracular website of the same name.

The idea is to inspire visitors to have a go at constructing equally impressive imagined structures with wooden blocks in the Laing’s interpretation spaces. Google SketchUp, a 3D modelling programme, also promises the chance to build “modernist masterpieces” on computers.

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