• Li An Li

How to attend a PV with six kids

Ok, so let's be clear there were four teenagers a four-year-old and a six-year-old. I specify the difference because a lot of learning happens between six and four. I have decided to live by my desire to help change the art world for artist mothers. Including taking my kids to shows and private views.

This is an account of attending my first private view with six kids and how we all had a wonderful time. I would be lying if I said I was fine with it. I was but I wasn't. I was in all truth extremely daunted by the idea of traveling into London for the first time in two years; the first time since the pandemic and this time with more children than I have ever taken to London ever. Besides the private view, being in London it was scheduled to start at 6 pm. In parenting terms, it's post-meltdown, in our house that 4-6 pm. For those of you without the pleasure, this is the time where the whole household turns to scream hot lava and I can't wait for 9 pm to the role on when the volcanos are asleep. So I braced myself for a drive to Greater London with a car full of WWF participants practicing their catapulting skills through the car whilst simultaneously rehearsing for the world's best-screeching cat choir and I as not dissapointed.

On top of that, the teenagers I had with me were petrified of London. The anxiety was high and it was real. I went over the plan with all of them again and again. Discussing how they could get drinks, how they could go to the loo, and what sort of food we may be able to find. One teenager was insistent that rice was the only food her stomach could cope with and that anything else would cause huge issues. (if you have teenage girls you know what I mean). I know the key to keeping kids calm is FOOD. To be honest, let's face it we all need food to prevent the onset of the hangry monster.

But see food being the key is how we survived this. Now I must note I have the most wonderful colleagues who encouraged me that all would be ok. Experienced mothers themselves, especially one lady that really understands children and who I know would rescue me if the lava moment decided to melt me away also in the middle of the gallery. That in truth was my deepest fear.

Well, we got to London. I had splashed out and gotten a taxi from greater London into the center. So worth it, the kids were excited and I was calm. Although to catch a taxi with a group of 6 under 16s is not simple and a fair bit of strong-willed-don't-mess -with- this- Mumma had to come out. But we got there relatively unflustered. Minus the scared four-year-old who thought she liked taxis but has now decided she hates them and never wants to go in them ever again, and thought that sitting down on the seat was a form of punishment and the only safe place was to use me as climbing frame the whole ride.

Now, remember I said the key was food. Oh, I thought London had an eating place how wrong was I. You see post-pandemic the small eatiers shut, only those on main roads had remained open. So we spent thirty minutes walking around. Now, this actually was a good thing, see the children had been in a car for quite some time now and their legs needed to move. So motivation, singing songs, looking at things and generally silliness got us through we found the rice, we found chips, we found sandwiches. Everyone was happy and now I made them wait. They had their treasures and they had to guard it all the way till we got back to our gallery island. And we arrived just on time. I set the kids up, for their feast on a bench directly in front of the gallery. I know mothers! It was like the bench was positioned for me! The youngest inside the circle the older chidlren surrounding them. I figured with two little ones even if one bolted there were still four big kids, two to chase the runner, one to guard the remaining younger child, and one to send a message to me. It worked a charm. I managed two conversations before. The steam from the emergent lava started to show at which point it was almost 7 pm and we bolted. We made it. I managed to see people looking at my work! I saw artists! I had a presence! and we were over halfway in our adventure.

To be honest, the journey home was uneventful, they all knew what was happening, expectations were there and they were all tired out. I had won! Not just the battle with them but the battle with the set-up and my own insecurities all for 45mins of professionalism!

But let's be serious, the art world needs to change so the questions arise. How can this experience be made better? Well perhaps, openings between afternoon nap and dinner so say 3-4ish, maybe even included dinner. Make it a party. Maybe even have a room dedicated to a movie, a bit the same way IKEA does it. The kids can watch and wonder between the lounge and the gallery. Or maybe openings should be for breakfast! Good, coffee and long tolerances finishing in lunch and before a well-earned nap time. What ideas do you have to make galleries more parent-friendly?

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