Family Days at BALTIC happen several times a year during school holidays and everyone is welcome. On these days we especially invite local families from across Tyne and Wear to play, make and create in a free day of creative activities by regional and national artists.
Families can explore our exhibitions, inhabit our great building’s spaces freely and take part in activities programmed specifically for that day. We want to ensure BALTIC Family Days are a great opportunity to welcome families who may not have visited us before.
As well as a programme of creative activity, Family Days include Access Hour and Baby Hour sessions, where adjustments are made to our galleries so that everyone is able to have the best experience possible. We also offer free refreshments and a picnic area, as well as special children’s lunch offers in BALTIC Kitchen.
Family Days October 2021 spanned five days and included creative workshops, fun activities and family tours. For this edition, we were inspired by the artist Albert Potrony's exhibition equal play. Family Days activities responded to Dutch architect and theorist Aldo Van Eyck’s play principles, and explored how play can be supported through materials, forms and environments which offer multiple paths, different points of interaction and space for imagination. The programme of activities considered: what would a space for non-gendered, non-directive play look like? How could an invitation to play and create together give agency to families, where the decision making is in their hands?
We explored these questions and themes through workshops with artists Susan McCloughlin and Paul Digby, as well as Big River Bakery and pop-up performances by String and Strong from Fully Booked Theatre. Toddler Time and Wander and Wonder family tours took place throughout the five-day programme.
The event was supported by volunteers from the West End Refugee Service.
Family Days October 2019 spanned two days and explored the theme of care in collaboration with artists Emma Cousin, Tim Spooner and Amy Lord. We considered how we care for ourselves, each other and the environment and what might be possible when we support each other and work together.
Activities included large scale painting and miniature sculptures. Additionally, botanical art making took place on the Ground Floor, inspired by an indoor garden installation created by The Comfrey Project and artist Joseph Shaw. Working with community collaborators Shuhana Jaladeen, Belmira Souza, Lucy Gabriel and Hossein Elahi Boroujeni there were opportunities to create and play, exhibition tours, complimentary hand massages and music from the North East Turkish Community. A film screening of artist’s films offered a quiet space to enjoy films featuring animals, specially selected for children. The day was supported by volunteers from the West End Refugee Service.
In February 2019, BALTIC invited families to explore the work of artist Heather Phillipson and her exhibition The Age of Love, through play, movement and making. BALTIC artists Sophie Lisa Beresford, Bex Harvey and Mat Fleming created free activities for local families including animation, dance, drawing and jewellery making.
Family activities took place throughout the building, with BALTIC’s Level 1 space transforming into an interactive disco. Families were encouraged to dance to music played by local DJ Stephen Bruce, alongside LED dancers, performers and a backdrop of UV and visual effects. Artist Sophie Lisa Beresford invited families to work together and create UV accessories to wear in the disco, and take home with them.
Families could experiment with drawing techniques inspired by the music using giant drawing machines. These machines included a Spirograph and mark-making turntable, and were presented by artist Bex Harvey.
In BALTIC’s Learning Lounge artist Matt Fleming invited families to create psychedelic artworks which were compiled into a collaborative kittiwake animation. Mat took inspiration from BALTIC’s resident kittiwakes, along with the animals in Heather Phillipson’s exhibition. The animation was added to throughout the day, and can be viewed below.
In October 2018 BALTIC worked with artist Katie Schwab to present Knot, the second official Family Day. Knot encouraged visitors to get hands on with rope, light, fabric and paper to creatively explore ways to unravel, loop, twist and wind. Families were invited to collectively weave, plait and tie onto a giant net that hung in BALTIC’s Level 1 space. Over the course of the day, the net was transformed with colourful ribbons and fabric, creating a collaborative hanging artwork.
Giant fabric shapes covered the floor within the space, through which visitors could explore journeys- playing with the shapes in lots of imaginative ways. Katie also invited families to experiment with light and shadows, using projectors and mountains of yellow shredded paper.
BALTIC artist Louise Bradley worked with visitors to make paper creations, experimenting with different making techniques on the Ground Floor. BALTIC’s Learning Lounge was animated with kinetic collages presented by BALTIC artist Sharon Wilson. Sharon worked with families to create colourful collages using laminating techniques, which were hung on the walls on the Learning Lounge.
BALTIC’s Sensory Room provided moments of quiet calm, while the picnic area with free tea, coffee and juice was the perfect spot to refuel after lots of exploring and making.
In August 2017 BALTIC worked with artist Nicola Singh for the first BALTIC Family Day. Nicola presented Animal Energies, along with a group of artists and musicians including; Flora Whiteley, Hannah Kirkham, Janina Sabaliauskaite, Susie Green, Heather Bonnie Reid and Serena Korda. The group worked together with visitors to explore their animal selves through movement, sound, sculpture and drawing.
Visitors explored their animal energies through giant floor drawings, clay sculpture, collaborative building and movement with the artists to the sounds of musicians Rachel Aggs and Rachel Horwood while an animal energy parade toured throughout the day.