Culture and heritage

Creative play connects children in Melbourne and Korea

19 February 2024

A five-year partnership between ArtPlay – the City of Melbourne’s creative hub for children and families – and South Korea’s Jeonju Cultural Foundation is flourishing in 2024. 

Artists and children from Melbourne and Jeonju have created several joint productions since 2020, engaging diverse families and building cultural understanding across the world.  

Over the years, the productions have seen children using their own places and people as the subject of quirky new art, speaking to a mountain and unlocking puzzles through interactive digital poems.  

The Talking with Shadows project – which invites children from Melbourne and Korea to have conversations without words, using only a large projector screen and shadows – is continuing to gather momentum. 

“We are taking away language as a form of communication and replacing it with physical responses to each other and the different buildings they are in, so that these children can engage in a totally new kind of imaginative conversation.” 

Jessica Wilson, co-creator of Talking with Shadows 

With support from the Australia Korea Foundation, the International Cultural Diplomacy Art Fund and a Playking grant, the team is now developing the Shadows project for presentation at a major festival in 2025.

But first, you’re invited to be part of the project’s final stage of creative development. 

Join a Talking in Shadows workshop in March 

As the Shadows project enters its final stage of creative development in March 2024, ArtPlay and Jeonju Cultural Foundation are inviting children to engage in one-on-one virtual creative sessions that transcend language and geographical barriers.  

Learn more and book tickets.

Meet the Talking with Shadows team in this video

The Jeonju Cultural Foundation said the enduring collaboration with ArtPlay is unique as it invites children to participate alongside artists in an international collaboration. 

“In Talking with Shadows, the children use traditional Korean Hanji paper from Jeonju and share their cultural contexts, effectively promoting Jeonju’s cultural elements globally within the creative sector,” they said. 

“This project is immensely valuable, facilitating both local and cultural exchange through direct interactions between cities and their children. 

“Long-term collaborations in children’s projects are rare, making the enduring nature of our unified project with overseas institutions particularly significant.  

“This collaboration holds substantial institutional value and is considered a meaningful achievement in terms of fostering cultural diplomacy and international solidarity.”  

As part of ArtPlay and Jeonju Cultural Foundation’s shared commitment to deepening their relationship and impact, they recently presented a six-week professional development activity for international artists who specialise in working with children. To learn more, watch the Seedling Sessions video below. 

Meet the artists who participated in the Seedling Sessions project in this video

A commitment to international engagement 

The collaboration with Korea isn’t the only way that ArtPlay shares its impact overseas. 

The ArtPlay team recently worked with The Artground in Singapore, Papermoon Puppet Theatre in Indonesia and Melbourne Fringe Festival to devise and present The Little Nests, an immersive puppetry performance co-created with children.  

The project premiered in Melbourne Fringe 2023 and, after a successful season at ArtPlay, toured to the Oz Asia Festival in Adelaide.  

Celebrating 20 years of ArtPlay 

ArtPlay brings together children (from babies to 13 years of age) and artists to explore and create innovative experiences that encourage self-expression and playful exchange. It’s located at Birrarung Marr behind Federation Square.  

ArtPlay has been the starting post for many acclaimed creative works, and its model has inspired other world-class institutions like Art Ground in Singapore and the Factory of Contemporary Arts in Jeonju.  

To learn more, read ArtPlay turns 20: riverside hub nurtures next-gen creatives

More stories about the City of Melbourne’s international connections 

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