A Nature-Themed Adventure Allowing Children to Forge Their Own Path
In a collaboration between Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) and immersive events experts Wild Rumpus, a unique and immersive light-led experience called Solstice has been created for young children. This interactive installation allows children to explore a nature-themed adventure at their own pace, with puppetry, storytelling, and interactive elements woven into the experience. Solstice provides a carefully curated space where children can engage with glowing animals, gleaming installations, and other friendly faces, fostering a sense of freedom and creativity.
Spring: A Delicate and Gentle Encounter
As the journey begins in spring, children are greeted by a canopy of rainbow-colored paper streamers hanging from the ceiling and scattered oversized flowers and nest sculptures. Chalkboards invite the children to add their own sketches, while a giant but delicate dragonfly puppet flutters about, creating a warm and gentle atmosphere. The curated space, accompanied by lulling music and smiling puppeteers, allows children like Benji, a three-year-old visitor, to feel at ease and explore the installations at their own pace.
Summer: A Storytelling Space
Moving into the summer room, children encounter swarms of sculpted bees and blooming flowers lining their path. Beyond lies a cozy space bathed in a honeyed golden glow, filled with lamps, chairs, cushions, and benches. Recognizing this environment as story time, the children settle down to listen to a tale about a winter wolf who is sad and lonely while all her animal friends hibernate. Although the story is told with gusto, it lacks integration into the overall experience. While the installation elements cater to a younger audience, the more sophisticated aspects of the story may be lost on children like Benji.
Winter: Meeting the Gentle Wolf
In the winter room adorned with snowy canopies and silver tree trunks, the children finally meet the lonely wolf. With soulful eyes and a body that glows with a soft light, the wolf captivates their attention. Benji, displaying his bravery, fearlessly approaches the wolf, stroking it and examining it from every angle. The gentle nature of the wolf dispels any fears, and the other children follow suit, drawn in by curiosity and wonder.
Finale: Creating Shadows and Happy Stories
In the final rooms, children have the opportunity to create their own shadow-puppet shows and craft stars filled with happy stories. This part-playgroup, part-theatre experience allows young audiences to engage with the glimmering nature-scape on their own terms. While the flow of the experience may feel stop-start, Solstice remains an open-hearted affair that invites children to explore and engage with their surroundings in a way that is both imaginative and personal.
Solstice at Battersea Arts Centre offers a one-of-a-kind immersive light-led experience for young children. Through its nature-themed installations, storytelling, and interactive elements, children are given the freedom to forge their own path and explore at their own pace. While the story aspect of the experience may not fully resonate with the youngest visitors, the overall atmosphere and carefully curated spaces create a warm and gentle environment that encourages creativity and engagement. Solstice is a testament to the power of immersive experiences in fostering curiosity, imagination, and a sense of wonder in young minds.