Let’s play curators! (2019)


Once upon a time, in 2019 in fact, there lived a girl called Mia. Mia, who was six and three quarters years old at the time, lived on a Spanish island with her mummy, Sonia, and their two Spanish cats. Even though they lived in Spain now, Mia was an English girl, as she was born in London. 

One day, when Mia and Sonia were visiting London again, Sonia called on her very close friend, Eldi, to see if she wouldn’t mind babysitting Mia for a couple of days while Sonia had to travel overseas for work. Her job was to sell very grand and glittery chandeliers made of crystal, and when the sunlight passed through the crystals, beautiful rainbows shone all around and danced on the walls, floors and ceilings, making everything in the room sparkle with joy and wonder. The people she sold her chandeliers to (she called them her clients), came from all over the world, from wherever the richest people lived. Her clients were richer than any of the rich people you might have seen on TV or in movies, or on magazine covers or on bus stop ads, or anybody on instagram. These were people who liked things to be made out of crystal for some reason — bowls, glasses and vases, maybe even chairs and beds, and probably even sinks and toilets too! They liked to decorate their yachts with sparkling crystal things — their homes, too. And these people, the richest in the world, that Sonia sold chandeliers to, ALL had yachts.

Yachts (rhymes with knots, and pots) are very big sailboats that still somehow manage to be very cosy, and they really are rather wonderful. Yachts cost a lot of money, and there’s no point owning a yacht if you can’t also fill it with super fancy decorations and furniture. Having a yacht lets rich people sail to all the amazing places you’ve read about in all the storybooks, and visit other rich people they know elsewhere, whenever they fancied it. They were all very lucky indeed.

The best part of being on a yacht is, not so much the sailing, but the lounging around on deck in swimming costumes and large brimmed hats, and swimming in the cool, blue, glass-like water, when the yacht drops anchor somewhere sunny and warm, and the sea is calm and still. Rich folks like to drink a bubbly drink called champagne (sham-pain) whenever they go on yachts, and they really, really like to drink it out of the kind of glittery crystal glasses made with the same stuff the chandeliers Sonia sold were made of.

Anyway, when Sonia asked Eldi if she could look after Mia, she was delighted, and said yes, because in fact, the weekend that Sonia had to go away happened to be a weekend that her own daughter, Hope, was going to be away on one of her own adventures up North, visiting her dad’s family. Mia would be able to feel grown up having teenage Hope’s room for the two days! It was perfect timing!

And also around that time, Eldi had been organising Hope’s old toys from back when she was Mia’s age, and even younger. This meant that Mia could enjoy playing with Hope’s old toys and games, while Eldi tried to figure out what she was going to do with them. She knew that Hope would want to give some of the toys to charity, and that she definitely want to keep some things forever and ever. And she knew that Hope would also want some of the really good things to go to Mia and her cousins, if they wanted them, when Mia moved back to London the following year. (Mia didn’t really have enough room in her suitcase to take lots of extra things to her home in Spain.)

Because Eldi was an artist and an actress, she wanted to save some of the unwanted toys from going into the trash, so that she could use them in some of her art things. She wanted to make new artworks her big dolls house. This big dolls house hadn’t been Hope’s when she was younger so Eldi didn’t feel funny about using it for her art. Eldi had got it for a performance she did a few years back, with Mia’s Auntie Arabelle (and another lady that Mia didn’t know). The performance was called ChildsPlayShadows, and it ‘fell through’, whatever that means. So Eldi took the dolls house home with her, and a couple of years later, she had an idea to turn it into a miniature art gallery, for miniature works of art, and she planned to invite other artists to show mini paintings, sculptures and other things inside.

She painted the dolls house to look like just like a real life sized art gallery, with white walls and grey floors. It’s true, some art galleries do have dark brown wooden floors, but the newer ones all seemed to have had grey concrete floors, and Eldi wanted her dolls house to look just like one of those. She put electric lights in it to light the things she put in the dolls house and make them stand out. Then she displayed mini works of art that she or other people made (or sometimes found) inside her new mini gallery. She took photos of the exhibitions, and put them online (mainly on facebook, twitter and instagram, but also on her own website).

An exhibition is when pictures, instead of being on the pages in books, or on instagram, are put up on the walls of a gallery. But books and instagram can also be shown in a gallery exhibition, and a website could also take the place of a real-life gallery space, so some people find that a little confusing. The kinds of people that find it confusing tend to be the kind that think art is (or should be) only about paintings and sculptures.

Sculptures are usually put on the floor in an exhibition – in a corner of the gallery, out of the way, or right in the middle of the room where people can trip over it! So you have to be very careful. Sometimes they are put on a thing called a plinth. But sometimes sculptures can be hung on the wall or even from the ceiling, almost like the a chandeliers Mia’s mum sold to rich folks! And sometimes sculptures can even found outside in the open air, getting rained on, snowed on, and pooped on, by art-hating pigeons.

Normally, you’re not allowed to touch the art when you go to an exhibition, but sometimes you can. If you touch art when you’re not supposed to, you can get into a lot of trouble, so it’s always best to ask first. If there is a sign saying ‘Please Do Not Touch’, you really shouldn’t. Also if there is a red velvet rope draped between two posts blocking you from walking right up to the artwork, it means you shouldn’t do so, and it definitely means that you mustn’t swing on the rope or jump over it, or anything like that because you can get hurt, or hurt the art.

But since Eldi’s exhibition was inside a dolls house inside Eldi’s flat, she let Mia play with all the artworks inside it. Eldi said that this made Mia a curator now. A curator is the person who brings all of the art and artists in an exhibition together, and tries to tell a story with the art, and not with words. But art can be made out of words. And words can be art. Eldi told Mia this but Mia said she didn’t really believe her, and she got straight down to the work of being a curator, rearranging the mini exhibits in all the rooms, and she had a really good time doing it.

Mia and Sonia now live in London again and are very happy to be there.

Mia’s mummy no longer sells crystal chandeliers to rich folks to decorate their yachts with.

And if you ever do get a chance to go on a yacht when you’re a grown up, you really should. But please don’t become all snooty about it. And watch out for pirates. Because pirates are real.

The End.

(Based on a true story. Some names have been changed)


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