Culture and heritage

Meet 8 amazing artists aged under 12

7 June 2023

Step inside the minds of future generations at art experiences made by kids, for kids these school holidays. Head to ArtPlay at Birrarung Marr to join the fun from 1 to 9 July.

We brought together a group of 9 to 12-year-olds to spend a year creating, working alongside professional artists Alex Walker and Hannah Liddeaux from House of Muchness.

Together, the By Kids for Kids Collective created a program of exciting events called Don’t Panic, Everything is Urgent – a concept that reflects the mixed messages children receive from the adult world.

When everything seems like an emergency, sometimes the young creators feel that the only reasonable reaction is to laugh. Likewise, the events they’ve dreamed up are both serious and silly.

Program highlights

Here are just a few of the art experiences the team has created:

  • Navigate “emergencies” – from everyday anxieties like eating the worst vegetable to natural disasters – in an obstacle course called The World is Lava.
  • Ponder on leadership – from the generous to the greedy – and style yourself with props and costumes as a president, goddess or guru for a photoshoot in How Do You Get Power?
  • Achieve maximum calm at test-stations in Can Everyone Please Calm Down? Peace out with plants, put cucumber slices on your eyes and try tai chi, then cast your vote for the best method.
  • Hear a playful discussion called Arguments For and Against Having Children. The panel of children and grown-ups will talk about why children are a lot of work and also very necessary.

Browse the full program. Tickets are on sale now.

Meet the makers

The eight children behind Don’t Panic, Everything is Urgent are passionate young Melburnians, with boundless creativity and insights.

Each member of the collective has been assigned an archetype – like Activist or Philosopher – based on their personality and interests. Here’s a little about each of the children.


Abel the Activist

Abel thinks facilitating the art experiences will be full of feelings, from nerves to excitement.

“I care about a lot of things, but it all comes down to treating everyone the same – we’re all human,” Abel said.

“I’ve loved meeting these people. And working together in this way, which is chaotic and organised at the same time. I hope kids walk away saying: ‘I want to do this again. Can we stay longer?’.”


Blazey the Critic

Blazey enjoys music, drama and rock climbing, and hopes she would be described as compassionate and fashionable. She has enjoyed planning art experiences that other people will enjoy.

“I love being part of something that matters. The experience of being part of something is really satisfying. I like having a purpose,” Blazey said.

“Watching people enjoy things makes me feel good. It’s like gifting someone something they love.”


Gianne the Precisionist

Gianne likes K-Pop, foods with red beans and making up her own extra homework. Sometimes she finds it tricky being a big sibling. She thinks she’d be described as humourous, loud and caring.

“The part I love most about By Kids for Kids is coming here, together in-person. The being part of a group. The talking about plans and then making things happen,” Gianne said.

“I think when children come to the things we’ve planned they’ll feel a connection to the material. Like, hopefully they’ll feel that we’ve had empathy for young people when we’ve designed these things.”


Jude the Wildcard

Jude loves collaborating with an ensemble that’s so “diverse, magical and a good type of strange”.

She said children are well-placed to create art for other children, because they have first-hand experience, and their brains work differently.

“We have been raised differently to our parents and teachers, so when they’re remembering childhood they’re just remembering and we’re actually in it,” Jude said.

“Back then there were no drones, the internet was just for searching, you couldn’t re-watch something. It was also more gendered and had more discrimination – there was more judgement, so more secrets.

“I hope kids walk away thinking that kids can run some things. I hope leading an experience will make me ready for all the other things I want to do.”


Luca the Foodie-Gamer

Luca loves pizza, burgers, survival-obstacle video games and quality time with friends and family. He hates being bullied and the cancellation of special events.

“I like having fun and planning. I think I will be confident during the events,” Luca said.

“At the smaller version of the program that we ran before, I led the making of clay dragons. I felt brave.”


Miwa the Analyst

Miwa loves dressing up, researching, experimenting and learning more about her Japanese cultural heritage. She loves upcycling and feels upset when people don’t believe in climate change.

“With fashion upcycling, it’s good for the earth, plus you can be creative with your own style. I want to help people get excited and positive about recycling and op-shopping.” Miwa said.

“I hope people who come to Don’t Panic, Everything is Urgent really love it. It’s so exciting to change your thinking and learn more.”


Otto the Philosopher

Otto loves Harry Potter, video games, origami and going on holidays. Sometimes he gets frustrated being a big brother.

“I love a good challenge. I think it will work. The ideas are good and we’ve come up with them in lots of different ways,” Otto said.

“We hold lots of different opinions, so the ideas get better as we ask questions about them, saying ‘yes and..’, ‘yes but…’. I hope kids love it and want to come again.

“I hope we get good feedback, and even things we can improve on. Getting other people to have a good experience makes me happy.”


Tilda the Dreamer

Tilda said making the art experiences has made her feel hopeful, proud and accomplished. Sometimes Tilda feels stuck in a world of opposite warnings where people are following rather than really living.

“I love all the people in our ensemble. They are all different and all so kind. It’s so full of positive thinking and to spend time with different minds is really special,” Tilda said.

“Kids know quite well what kids enjoy so it makes sense to do it like this. Just because we’re children we’re not the wrong person for the job, we’re the right kind of people for the job – to guide the fun.”

About 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.

To learn more, visit ArtPlay.

Photo credit: All portrait images of By Kids for Kids Collective members are by Theresa Harrison.

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