World Play, 2019


World Play is an immersive installation designed in collaboration with 2-4 year olds. Drawing on the history of post war fascination with the infant mind, this work upturns a history of state intervention in the privacy of family life and the home, offering an environment designed by children and influenced by the history of child-centered education and therapeutic techniques.

Looking to the work of psychoanalyst Melanie Klein and psychologist Margaret Lowenfeld, whose different practices and approach both used the visuals of play to better understand their patients, World Play positions the child as expert in the creative process, drawing on their ‘inner worlds’ to pose the question – what play is possible when children design the toys themselves?

The work consists of 29 soft sculptures created by the artist following painting workshops with 2-4 year olds to design their ideal items for play. These abstract and curious shapes lend themselves to multiple-interpretations that can be appropriated by visitors to the space. A rigged curtain suspension provides a moveable architecture while an observation chamber makes a nod to the original ‘Toddler Hut’ of Anna Freud, inverting the historic practice of adults observing children by setting the window at toddler height allowing toddlers to keep an eye on the adult world.

World Play was created as part of Wunderblock: a building wide exhibition at the Freud Museum London, commissioned by the Hidden Persuaders Project, Birkbeck, University of London, and curated by Rachel Fleming-Mulford.

Wunderblock developed through investigation into post war paranoia around the developing child’s mind and how nurturing and understanding the child became inextricably linked to the interests of the state. Wunderblock interrogates this complex history to consider the status of the child in society today.